We ensure our safety by wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) in some specific jobs and conditions. For construction workers, engineers, roofers, etc., hard hats are indispensable.
We do not want to get hurt by frequent UV rays exposure, falling objects, electricity, and toxic chemicals. So a hard hat built of top-rated materials that pass OSHA standards is what we need.
If you intend to explore more about specific types of protective headwear, here’s the answer to the question: “ What are hard hats made of?”
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The Origin Of Hard Hat
The appearance of hard hats for safety dates back to worldwide II, where the huge and heavy gear prevents soldiers from shrapnel, flying debris, and bullets.
Noticing how a piece of headwear guards people from extreme dangers, Edward W.Bullard, a young lieutenant in the U.S army, brought this gear into his family business when returning home. In 1919, he created the first-ever hard hats for workers.
The Change of Hard Hat Materials And Construction
Back in the day, it was called the “hard-boiled hat”, made of canvas and leather. Such an invention made its way to the industrial field, gradually establishing itself as a must-have tool for miners all over the country.
Before the application of canvas, the helmet was built using metal and leather. Yet metal was expensive and heavy, making the piece bulky for enclosed areas. Later, the idea of a heavy-duck canvas hat was born, with a shellac coating for reinforcement.
Also, at that time, to reduce the burden and balance the headgear, a suspension system was installed. These days, you can see different types of suspension made with various attachment points to distribute weight, thanks to technological advances.
After the “hard-boiled hat” proved its excellent hold-up in mining conditions, the apparatus was customized to fit different work. For instance, the Bakelite miner hard hat was constructed of an early plastic form with eight suspension straps.
Afterward, another alteration happened with hard hats in 1952, as manufacturers started using thermoplastic for construction. Then, the 1960s saw the transition of thermoplastic helmets to polyethylene hard hats.
From this point onward, all headwear has been made from polyethylene at the beginning of the twenty-first century.
Different Types of Hard Hats
Workers familiar with hard hats might already know that this protective headgear must meet Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandatory regulations for use at the workplace.
In terms of means for those regulations, we have the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards. All protective hard hats must be certified by ANSI to be introduced to the market.
Next, let’s check out some ANSI helmet categories for different protection purposes:
- Hard hat type I: is the commonly-used gear in the U.S, designed with a full brim. It offers top-of-the-head protection.
- Hard hat type II: is the commonly-used gear in Europe, designed with a short front brim. It offers top and sides of the head protection.
Regarding hard hat classes, ANSI put them into three types, based on their capability in shielding electrical hazards:
- Class G: General helmet, designed to handle electricity power of up to 2 200 volts.
This tool safeguards us against low-voltage conductors and provides dielectric protection. It can be made of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) shell or resin-impregnated textile for durability against impacts and electric shocks.
- Class E: Electrical helmet, designed to handle electricity power of up to 20 000 volts.
The headwear shields workers from electrical current and arc flashes. It is often made of PC/ABS -a thermoplastic alloy. Thus, such helmets are suitable for construction and utility sites, road work, mining, and any altitude tasks.
- Class C: Conductive helmet, no electric check protection.
These hats are constructed using high-quality PC/ABS composite or fiberglass. In fact, superior products can come with polymer film for enhanced durability. Also, a conductive material such as aluminum is utilized for better breathability.
To conclude all the hard hat types above, we see the most commonly used material is high-density polyethylene (HDPE), followed by PC/ABS, aluminum, resin-impregnated textiles, and fiberglass.
The suspension strap systems are made of woven nylon webbing and bands of molded HDPE, vinyl, or nylon. For extra comfortability, foam liner constructed out of expanded polystyrene is added.
Hard Hat Care And Maintenance
Despite which type of high-quality materials the hard hat is made of, frequent exposure to hazards will indeed degrade its structural integrity. Hence, our helmets call for maintenance and care to withstand adverse in the workplace better.
- Restrain from storing your hard hats inside a hot vehicle for long. The apparatus can usually hold up to temperatures ranging from – 10 to 50 Celsius degrees; meanwhile, hot vehicles can reach 80 degrees in hot summer.
- When decorating your helmets, make sure to use non-abrasive adhesives. Also, solvent-based glues can affect the hard hat’s shell too. So, remember not to use harsh chemicals to clean or treat your headgear.
- Dropping the hard hat off the floor from a great height can lead to hairline cracks that are hard to see. In case of such incidents, make sure you inspect it thoroughly to determine if the shell requires replacement.
Working with safety hard hats allows us to perform with confidence and optimal safety. So, it does not hurt to know more about this essential gear for your head protection.
After knowing the answer to the question “What are hard hats made of”, hopefully, you can choose the right apparatus for your current work and take up the proper maintenance and care method.