Wearing hard hats is a part of most workers’ jobs in hazardous set-ups to prevent potential injuries caused by falling objects, electrical shocks, etc. The essential protective personal equipment must meet OSHA standards, yet the administration cannot specify all hats’ expiry time frame.
We cannot expect the headwear to last forever, no matter how highly durable it is. So, for the question “how long do hard hats last?”, below are some clues on their service life for us to know when to replace them.
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Do Hard Hats Expire?
Yes, hard hats will wear out over time, but the useful period depends on each hard hat’s quality and its user’s working conditions.
What is often stamped on hard hats is not their expiry time but their manufacturing date. You can check the info on the brim; look closely as you flip your hard hat over. The middle of the stamp is the manufacturing year, and the month is in its circle rim.
For general purposes, qualified headwear expires within five years. So, you can figure out when the hat should end its service life from the manufacturing date.
How Long Do Hard Hats Last?
We should not expect a piece to last that long, just up to 5 years of frequent use. As stated before, extreme hazards like electricity, chemicals, or sunlight can deteriorate it sooner despite little change in colors or appearance.
According to 3M Safety — a giant in personal protective equipment (PPE) products, workers should replace the hat suspension every year and install a new hat shell every two years to five years.
As the replacement period varies, we can look at our current working conditions to determine a more specific time. If your construction helmet is often exposed to UV rays and rains since you handle tasks outdoors, the replacement should indeed come sooner than five years.
Also, heavy falling objects and direct contact with corrosive chemicals and electricity will shorten the helmet life to two years only. You should purchase a new one for heavy-duty use once that time comes.
How to Find Out If the Hard Hats Expire?
It is tricky to figure out when we should stop using our hard hats without the expiration dates. Then, knowing your first date of use does not seem to be enough. In such situations, we have to pay attention to definite proofs and signs showing us it’s time to replace the worn-out piece with a new one.
If there are visible damages shown on the hard hat, such as cracks or dents due to long-time wear or sudden break, we should get rid of the piece right away.
Construction workers who often wear hard hats to shield themselves against falling debris and tools can anticipate the dents or holes after a while. The impact stress leads to multiple weak spots on their helmet, lowering the apparatus’s protecting ability.
Other issues that you can easily identify are frayed and torn suspension and attachment. When the stitches on those parts come loose, and the clips are broken, it is time to replace them with a new suspension and attachment system.
Yet, purchasing a new suspension requires careful measurements of your hard hat. It is advisable to opt for the same brand that sold you the apparatus. Since there are multiple types of suspension with different attachment points, it is essential to pick a perfect match.
UV rays can cause issues such as fading and brittleness to the helmet shells. For outdoor work under changing weather, such damage is unavoidable, no matter how superior the shell materials are. When they become weak and show signs of chalky and discolored surfaces, it’s time for a replacement.
Another factor that worsens the condition of a well-made shell is corrosive chemicals. Even though many hard hats are designed to resist those harmful elements, deteriorating effects such as discoloration and brittleness still happen after a while, especially under extreme use.
Will Proper Care Lengthen the Hard Hat Service Life?
Like any accessories and equipment we use for work, thorough maintenance can prolong a helmet’s useful period. If you intend to take care of your hard hat for long-lasting use, here’re some helpful tips to follow:
- Choose a suitable cleaner to disinfect your hard hats. I would suggest you avoid using oil-based solvents or any abrasive chemicals to clean the pieces to prevent damaging the shells.
At least once a month, use the cleaner to wash away grease, oil, sweat, and chemicals. Make sure to clean all its parts thoroughly by soaking the whole piece in hot water. Do not forget to dry the helmet before putting it away.
- Hard hat inspection is a must to most companies, where they hire inspectors to check the safety equipment for errors or damages.
You should have your helmet inspected after dropping incidents, or heavy objects falling, etc. Any significant issues should require immediate checking to ensure the piece is in good condition.
- Regarding the hard hat decoration, it is recommendable not to opt for metallic decals. Plus, make sure the adhesives are not corrosive and do not place them too near the hat edges.
“How long do hard hats last?” is a question of the product quality, our working conditions, and our care towards the equipment. I believe in frequent inspection bringing us peace of mind, knowing the protective headwear can deliver its functions well.
Suppose you notice any of the damages mentioned above, including discoloration, dents, breaks, cracks, holes, etc., it is time to replace your old hard hat with a new and quality one for ultimate safety when working.