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How to Read Hard Hat Expiration Date? (Quick & Simple)

Fact checked by A. Thompson

how to read hard hat expiration date

Expiration dates do not only apply to edible things; some non-consumable things, like hard hats, also have a lifespan. A hard hat or a safety helmet is a piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) designed to protect your head from falling objects and reduce the impact against electrical shock from voltage conductors.

If you are someone who uses a hard hat daily, you ought to know how to read hard hat expiration date and the factors to consider when to replace it. I will discuss these items in the succeeding sections.

Why Hard Hats Expire

Expiration dates on hard hats aren’t actually defined, but this doesn’t mean that it has no lifespan. Hard hats expire for a simple but crucial reason – they wear and tear, thus becoming ineffective over time.

It may not be a requirement for all working individuals. Still, there are industries that require it because their operation involves some hazard, and the workers need protection in performing their duties.

Knowing when to toss away your hard hat ensures your safety and protection against the risk of head injury or trauma.

When Do Hardhats Expire?


Unlike canned goods where the expiration date is specifically identified and placed, the OSHA hard hat expiration depends on several conditions. Thus its service life could not be precisely specified.

Hard hats manufacturers only put a date code in the safety hats they produced. See the steps below to know where you can see the date code and how to read it.

Step 1: Find a moulded clock-like symbol in the hard hat. Depending on the manufacturer, the hard hat date stamp can be found in different locations on the inside of a hard hat.

Look for a circular symbol resembling a clock; it contains the numbers 1 to 12 in the perimeter. In the center of the clock-like sign, you will find an arrow pointing to a particular number while another number is stamped on each side of the arrow.

Step 2: Determine what number the arrow is pointing to. The numbers 1 through 12 placed in the perimeter of the circular symbol represent the months in a year in its numerical version.

The arrow will help you figure out what month the hard hat is made. If the arrow is pointing to number 2, it means that the hard hat was manufactured in February and produced in the month of September if it is pointing to number 9.

Step 3: Check the year it was manufactured. The hard hat date stamp also includes the year it was made. The two numbers in the middle placed on the two sides of the arrow represent the last two numbers of the year the hard hat was manufactured.

Let’s say that the number on the left side is 1 and on the other side is 6; this means that the hard hat was produced in 2016.

In the picture below, the arrow is pointing towards the number 7, and the 2-digit on each side are 1 and 2, indicating July 2012.


Step 4: Look for the alternate date of the manufacturing symbol (Only do this step if you do not see the clock-like figure). Some manufacturers use different types of symbols in placing the issuance date on their hard hats. In most safety hats, you’ll see the clock-like symbol, but if not then you need to look for another symbol.

The other common type of date stamp features 4 quadrants separated by a line, 2 at the top and another 2 at the bottom. In the center, you can see a 2-digit number which stands for the last 2-digit of the year the hard hat was manufactured. To determine what quarter of the year the hat was made, you need to count the dot present on each quadrant.

For example, the 2-digit in the image below are 0 and 7, while the first and second quadrants have a dot. You can determine that the hard hat was made in the second quarter of the year 2007 or from April to June 2007.


Hard Hat Lifespan

Hard hat manufacturers follow certain safety standards to guarantee the quality of your hard hat. But the question of how long is a hard hat good for sometimes depends on your work environment.

If your work involves doing any of the following, then you should conduct a daily inspection of your hard hat and assess if it is still safe to use:

  • Working as an architect, a safety officer, foreman, engineer or a laborer in a building construction site
  • If you are working as an electrician
  • Operating a crane or any heavy equipment
  • If you work in the logging industry
  • Working as a firefighter
  • Work that involves building a boat or ship
  • Working in the mining industry and
  • Other types of work that involves the risk of falling objects or electrical trauma

Wearing a hard hat as part of your overall personal protective gear is important to ensure your safety, but not just any kind of hard hat, you should only use one that’s within its lifespan. Want to know other factors to consider in replacing your safety helmet? Read on as we explore more about it!

When to Replace Your Hard Hat


Take a look below at the list of factors you need to know when it is time to eliminate your hard hat and get a new one:

  • Dispose of your safety helmet immediately if you see any damage. Safety hats are very durable; they absorb or reduce impact from heavy falling objects or electrical shocks. If you see any cracks or dents in the hat’s shell sustained due to impact, heat, or chemical exposure, and if there is damage, breakage, or cuts in the hat’s suspensions, you should stop wearing it because it will no longer give you the protection you need.
  • Calculate the hard hat lifespan. Learning the issuance date of a hard hat will help you determine when to get rid of it. As discussed in the previous section, a hard hat has no specific lifespan, but you can always calculate its service use and make plans for when to replace it.
  • Manufacturer’s service life recommendation. Some makers put their proposed hard hat lifespan. This is to help the users in determining when to replace it and get a new one. Some studies conducted show that the ideal life of a safety helmet is between 2 to 5 years and should be disposed of thereafter.


A hard hat is your safety helmet; together with the other pieces of personal protective equipment, it is created to protect you and keep you safe while you do your job.

Learning how to read hard hat expiration date is very important so that you’ll know how long you’re going to use your hard hat. Reading the stamp date is a piece of cake if you have attentively followed the steps mentioned above.

Tell us what you think about hard hat expiration in the comment section and share this article if you find it informative.

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