Health and Safety on a job site is the number one priority in our business. We set that standard in our company so that everyone understands that they need to take it serious too. If there is somebody on our job site that is not taking it serious, they are sent home or worse. They become a threat to other people’s safety if they are not taking it serious, and that can lead to a lot of problems in the business owner’s life if anything were to ever happen.
An investment into personal protective equipment is a necessity for business owners and employees alike. Hard hats are one piece of protective equipment that is always available to our crew members. They do not necessarily always need to be worn in our line of work, but they are always at the ready should a risk present itself. It is important that you understand the laws in place for your workplace and whether or not you and your crew should be wearing them on site.
Regardless, have them available and at the ready. There are many different types on the market to protect from different threats on a job site, as well as provide some added comfort and style because nobody likes having to wear a hard hat. If you can invest in a hard hat that you enjoy and are happy with, you will be more likely to wear it and that is where this post will come in handy in choosing the right hard hat for you.
Hard Hat Rules
It is important that you do your own research in terms of the governing authority on labor in your jurisdiction to be able to determine the hard hat requirements for yourself and your business. If you are an employee, your employer should be able to provide you with that information. If you are a business owner, then it is up to you to get that information.
In our business, we ensure that a hard hat is available on site at all times for each of those that are on site. We know that there are other businesses in our area that do not operate in the same way, especially on residential job sites. However, we want to make sure that when the Ministry comes knocking, that we are prepared. Do our employees wear them 100% of the time when we are on a job site. Not necessarily, but they definitely do when there is a risk present. For example, when we are placing steps using a machine.
OSHA requires those on a job site to wear a hard hat whenever there is a risk that something may fall from above, when there is a risk that someone may hit their head on a fixed object, or when there is a possibility of coming in contact with electrical hazards. Just because you do not need to be wearing a hard hat does not mean that hard hats do not need to be present on a job site for each crew member. And it never hurts to be safe than sorry.
Hard Hat PPE
Knowing which hard hat to purchase begins with knowing the different standards that are followed in North America and the types and classes that are available. From there, you can determine what hard hat best suits your needs. In North America the standards are set by the American National Standards Institute or ANSI, whereas in Canada it is the Canadian Standards Association or CSA. The two of these share the same classes and types which makes the remainder of this information fairly straightforward.
ANSI Hard Hat and CSA Hard Hat Types and Classes
Typically ANSI Type 1 hard hats CSA Type 1 hard hats reduce the force of impact to the top of the head only. ANSI Type 2 hard hats and CSA Type 2 hard hats reduce the force of impact and penetration to the top or the sides of the head. The difference between Type 1 and Type 2 hard hats being the top of the head protection versus the top and lateral sides of the head being protected. For the reason of added protection, most construction sites will use the Type 2 hard hats.
ANSI Class C hard hats are not intended to protect against electrical hazards.
CSA Class C hard hats do not provide dielectric protection.
ANSI Class G hard hats do not reduce danger of low-voltage conductors and are proof-tested at 2,200 volts.
CSA Class G hard hats are non-conducting and passes dielectric strength test (resist the passage of electric current) of 2,200 volts for 1 minute.
ANSI Class E hard hats reduce the danger of higher voltage conductors and are proof-tested at 20,000 volts.
CSA Class E hard hats are non-conducting and passes dielectric strength tests of 20,000 volts for 3 minutes.
As you can see with these different standards, the Types between ANSI and CSA are very similar and the Classes are almost identical except for the wording that is used for either Institute or Association. Class C does not protect against electrical shock, Class G prevents smaller voltage, and Class E provides the most protection against 20,000 volts of electricity. These hard hats have their Types and Classes labeled on the helmet with a permanent marking. These markings will include the manufacturer’s identity, model, class and type, reverse orientation mark where applicable (only hard hats with this marking can be worn backwards), year and month of manufacture, size or size range, and wording to describe the protection, components, and directions to keep the hard hat in proper form.
Hard Hat Color Guide
Hard hat colors do play a role on a construction job site. Each color signifies a certain role on the construction site and can come in handy when looking for somebody and identifying them across a job site. Though these colors may differ from organization to organization, they are helpful guides to follow in your company if you have a larger crew.
- White hard hats are meant for managers, engineers, foremen, architects, and supervisors.
- Brown hard hats are worn by welders or those whose work involves high heat.
- Green hard hats are for safety officers, inspectors, or even new laborers and trainees on a job site. Sometimes workers who are on probation will be wearing this color as well.
- Yellow hard hats are worn by heavy machinery or earth moving operators or general laborers
- Orange hard hats are for those that are on the road crew, as well as new hires and site visitors.
- Blue hard hats are typically meant for electricians, carpenters, and sometimes even interim worker in a technical role.
- Grey hard hats are worn by visitors to a job site.
- Red hard hats are for those with emergency training, such as firefighters.
- Black hard hats were the first hard hats ever made and are a traditional color.
- Purple hard hats and Pink hard hats are growing in popularity thanks to the women that are increasingly joining the construction industry. Pink hard hats were traditionally used for those that lost or forgot their hard hat to ensure that it was returned at the end of the day.
- Camouflage hard hats and other custom designs are becoming increasingly popular on the market
Though these are not set in stone rules to follow if you are operating a small crew, if you are working a large job site you may want to create a color system to make it easier to identify those on your job site and to find those who you may be looking for. At the time of writing this post, there are no written guidelines for what color of hard hat you are wearing on a job site when you need it.
How to Take Care of a Hard Hat
The easiest way to know how to take care of your hard hat is to consult the manufacturer’s instructions. However, there are some general guidelines that you can follow to ensure that you are using your hard hat properly and taking care of it.
Much like any piece of equipment, you should inspect the shell, suspension, and liner every day before you use the hard hat. You should be looking for cracks, cuts, dents, or gouges in any of these pieces of the hard hat and replacing these pieces when needed. If a hard hat is hit by an object, you should no longer use that hard hat. The structural integrity of it could be compromised and could not be able to withstand another impact.
You should not store your hard hat in the direct sunlight as it will age much faster and become weaker. Mild soap and water should be used to clean the shell, suspension, and liner regularly. You should not alter the hard hat by painting it or puncturing holes into it. You can place decals on your hard hat at least a half inch above the rim and ensuring that the decals are compatible with the surface of a hard hat, not adversely affecting the material. You should consult the manufacturer about placing decals on your hard hat. Reflective stickers can add visibility to workers as well and can be added to the surface of the hard hats. Decals should never be placed to cover up damage and should not affect the inspection of the hard hat for damage.
Objects should never be carried inside of your hard hat to avoid damaging the liner, suspension, or inside of the shell. You should be wearing a chinstrap when working at heights or in windy conditions. Ensure that you check the service life of your hard hat by reading the manufacturer’s instructions or contacting the manufacturer directly. Be sure that these guidelines are followed and hard hats are replaced past their service life.
A baseball cap should not be worn under your hard hat. Other objects can be worn as long as they do not contain metal parts and are able to be worn smoothly on top of the head. The suspension should be still able to be adjusted to provide a snug and comfortable fit as it would when wearing the hard hat on your head.
Choosing the Best Hard Hat
Choosing the best hard hat for construction begins with identifying the Type and Class that is required as discussed above. You may be required to purchase a Type 2 hard hat that protects both top and lateral impacts. The Class may be one you will want to discuss with your employer, but if you are dealing with electrical in any capacity you will want to purchase a Class E that has been tested to 20,000 volts. Class G hard hats have been tested to 2,200 volts and Class C hard hats do not have electrical protection.
Beyond these aspects of choosing the best hard hat for you, there are the stylistic options. Color is one guideline that may be set in your company. It is not a written rule that needs to be followed, but if your company has a guideline then it should be followed. If you are the business owner, you get to set that guideline or lack of a guideline for your crew members. In addition to color, there are also various options to satisfy your personal taste that are going to be shown below.
Fiberglass Hard Hat
One of the lightest hard hats that we could find that also is of excellent standard, as well as looks good and is comfortable, would be the HDF-15KG DAX Full Brim Hard Hat by LIFT Safety. This hard hat weighs in at 415 grams or less than one pound without the suspension and 545 grams or just over 1 pound with the suspension.
Fiberglass is a strong material made similarly to carbon fiber and is used in swimming pools, surfboards, boat hulls, and some automobile parts. Lightweight, but durable, fiberglass is woven together and a resin is added and molded to increase the strength of the product. To manufacture fiberglass, glass is heated and forced through very fine holes to create glass filaments that are measured in microns. These filaments are then woven together, and in the case of making a hard hat are applied to a mold with a resin or plastic added. Though not as strong as carbon fiber, it is typically a less expensive option.
This hard hat is available in brown, white, and black and features a fiber reinforced resin shell for crown impact protection. The brim grip provides a secure spot to grab and an over-sized ratcheting fitment dial at the back allows you to adjust as needed without taking your gloves off. It also features a moisture-wicking foam backed microfiber liner that helps to reduce any sweat build-up. The suspension system provides a 6 point secure and comfortable fit.
This hard hat is so lightweight that you can see light through it when held up to a light source. This may be a little worrying, but these hard hats do meet ANSI Type 1 and Class G standards. That means that they do protect against crown impact (no lateral impact) and are rated to 2,200 volts of electricity with the Class G rating. Overall the reviews of these hard hats mention how durable and dependable these hard hats are.
Lightweight Hard Hat
One of the lightest hard hats that provides good protection at an excellent price is the Evolution Deluxe 6161 hard hat. This is a full brim hard hat made with high-density polyethylene. It also has vents to reduce the temperatures on the inside of the helmet which can be beneficial when working in the sun.
High-density polyethylene, or HDPE, is a lightweight and strong plastic. It is used to make milk jugs to lighter weight car parts. It is impact resistant, long lasting, weather resistant, resists mold and mildew, and is easy to mold into any shape. It is made by stringing together ethylene that is derived from natural gas.
Along with the hard hat is a 6 point suspension system with polyester textile straps and an adjustment system that will adjust to any size. A full brim hard hat can help with keeping water away from your face and the sunlight from hitting your eyes.
This hard hat is vented for added comfort in hot conditions and is available in white, yellow, orange, grey, lime-yellow, and red. It meets ANSI Type 1, Class C requirements which means it protects the crown from impact and does not provide electrical protection.
Carbon Fiber Hard Hat
LIFT Safety’s carbon fiber cap style hard hat is not just a good looking hard hat, but it is also unbelievably light. Weighing in at 420 grams or less than one pound without the suspension and 550 grams or about 1.2 pounds with the suspension, if you are looking for a hard hat made of carbon fiber then look no further!
Carbon Fiber is a polymer that is both strong and lightweight. It is made of thin crystalline filaments of carbon that strengthens material by being twisted together. It is laid over a mold and coated with a resin or plastic to form a permanent shape. It has high stiffness, tensile strength, chemical resistance, temperature tolerance to heat, low thermal expansion, and holds a excellent low weight to strength ratio.
The hard hat features a carbon fiber reinforced resin shell with 6 point suspension to provide you with a comfortable fit, as well as a triple reinforced crown for excellent protection. The ratcheting fitment dial at the back makes it easy to adjust to any size without having to remove your gloves. It also has a moisture-wicking foam backed microfiber liner that will help reduce that sweat buildup. Additionally, you can reverse this cap to be worn backwards.
These hard hats meet ANSI Type 1, Class C standards. This rating means that it provides protection to the crown (no lateral protection) and is not rated for electrical safety. You can find them available in white/black, orange/black, and yellow/black or you can get the similar full brim hard hat which has the same features and ratings while being available in green/ black along with white/black, orange/black, and yellow/black.
Low Profile Hard Hat
Pyramex is the king of low profile hard hats. They have an excellent selection of low profile hard hats available and you can never go wrong with their lineup. They even have the #1 seller on Amazon in the hard hat category with excellent reviews. Being a low profile hard hat, this allows it to sit more naturally providing a comfortable and secure fit lower on the crown of your head. It also helps to provide more coverage.
This hard hat is made of ABS plastic. ABS is an impact resistant thermoplastic and amorphous polymer made up of three monomers. Acrylonitrile helps with ABS chemical resistance and heat stability, made of propylene and ammonia to create a synthetic monomer. Butadiene provides the impact strength, and is a by-product of ethylene production. Styrene makes it rigid and is manufactured by dehydrogenation of ethyl benzene. What does this mean to you? You are getting a quality hard hat that is impact, chemical, and heat resistant that will also be durable while being light. ABS is known for its hardness, gloss, toughness, and electrical insulation. All of which are crucial with any hard hat.
The triangular ratchet suspension is easy to adjust allowing you to modify the hard hat at any time. There is a replaceable soft brow pad, suspensions, and headbands available to purchase and replace the units of your hard hat. This hard hat provides protection at temperatures as low as -22 degrees Fahrenheit or -30 degrees Celsius and up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit or 60 degrees Celsius.
This hard hat is rated to meet ANSI Type 1, Class E which means that it can withstand impact to the crown of the hard hat and protect up to 20,000 volts of electricity safety.
Most Comfortable Hard Hat
Finding the most comfortable hard hat is difficult. It completely depends on your head shape and size, which means everybody will find a different hard hat that fits their comfort level. However, there are good generalities to pull from that makes a comfortable hard hat. A comfortable hard hat should be lightweight, adjust to your head shape easily, the suspension should have moisture-wicking fabric, provides air circulation so that you are not overly sweaty in the sun, and protects you from sunlight and rain. Not to mention it should be able to protect your head.
All of this considered, you will find any of the above recommended hard hats to be the most comfortable. They feature proper material for protection, as well as some feature vents to allow for air circulation under the hard hat for those sunny high heat days. Some have full brim options to provide extra protection from the sun or the rain. They have a 6 point suspension system and are easily adjustable without having to take your gloves off. This provides a secure fit all around and ensures that the fit is comfortable. You will find that these option are the best on the market when it comes to choosing the right hard hat for you.
Hard Hat with Ear Protection
If you are wearing a hard hat for protection, chances are that you need additional protection in the workplace. What we are talking about is hearing protection. Most job sites are loud at certain points throughout the day. Whether you are operating heavy machinery, drilling, cutting, or whatever it may be, you are experiencing a lot of noise that will eventually destroy your hearing over time. It is important to protect your hearing, and there is no better way than having an ear muff attachment for hard hats to provide that protection. If you want more protection than just these ear muffs or want to learn more about hearing protection, check out our post on hearing protection.
3M is a leader in safety and have a great selection of ear muff noise protection attachments for hard hats. These particular ear muffs are mounted to most hard hats and are a one size fits most. They have a Noise Reduction Rating of 25 dB for moderate to high noise exposures in the workplace. They allow you to pivot the ear muffs when not in use and when they are being stored.
Hard Hat / Face Shield Combo
If you require a hard hat with face shield for something like forestry, then Husqvarna has you covered with their hard hat, mesh face shield, and ear protection attachments. This hard hat features an orange high visibility color that meets ANSI Type 1, Class E standards meaning it protects the crown from impact and protects up to 20,000 volts. The hearing protection provides a Noise Reduction Rating of 25 dB, providing you with a medium to high rate of noise reduction safety.
Hard Hat with Chin Strap
This Jorestech hard hat has a lot of great options with it from slotted ventilation holes and a chin strap to ensure it does not fall off. This hard hat is made of ABS plastic, making it durable, lightweight, and strong to withstand impact. The ventilation holes can be opened and closed to provide added air circulation when it is needed. It is a low profile hard hat, adding protection further down the head. It also has front hooks to allow for a headlamp to attach securely by an elastic headband and slide inserts for eye protection gear. The six point suspension system allows for better contact to the head and greater comfort for the user.
The hard hat is ANSI Type 1, Class C certified meaning it will protect impact to the crown only and provides no electrical safety. It is available in white, orange, pink, red, and lime. The chin strap provides safety of the hard hat not falling off if you are using it at heights.
Best Vented Hard Hats
If you are looking for the best vented hard hat, Pyramex has an excellent lineup of various vented hard hats from cap style to full brim hard hats. Having a good vented hard hat will provide air circulation within the hard hat and keep your head cooler during the high heat days. Much like other Pyramex hard hats that are featured on this list, it is made of strong ABS material and is lightweight. It is a low profile design that has better balance because of the low center of gravity. It has a four position harness that allows you to move it forward, backward, up, and down for an ultimate comfort fit. It also has a replaceable sweat band made of padded fabric and polyurethane foam.
Full Brim Hard Hat
If you are looking for a little more sun protection than your hard hat provides, then having a wide brim attachment for your hard hat is the way to go. These are made of polyester with breathable mesh, providing both protection from the sun as well as air circulation to avoid creating an even sweatier experience under your hard hat. These also provide high visibility and are portable as they fold into a perfect small circle. Their full brim mesh prevents the sun from blinding you and burning your face. They also have a sleeve cloth that extends down the back of your neck to help keep that sun off of your neck while working.
Cowboy Hard Hat
Of course if you want to stand out on a job site and have that full brim hard hat protection from the sun and rain, then you can go all out with the cowboy hard hat. This is the Vulcan Cowboy Hard hat. This is not a hard hat that we have tried ourselves, but it does actually have good reviews and may be something you would be interested in if you do not like any of the other options that we have featured here.
Like other hard hats featured on this post, it is made of high density polyethylene, so it is a strong hard plastic product that will protect from impacts to the crown. It also features a 6-point ratchet suspension to provide added comfort. It is in fact made in the USA and Vulcan is a good name in the industry, while also protecting the crown of the head from impact it also reduces the danger from exposure to low and high voltage electrical conductors.
This hard hat only comes in white (though there is a black option from another supplier, but the standards ratings are not featured) and meets ANSI Type 1, Class E standards meaning it will protect only the crown of the head from impacts and it will withstand up to 20,000 volts of electricity. Pretty impressive for a hard hat that is shaped like a cowboy hat.
Cooling Hard Hat
There are a few options on the market for a cooled hard hat. These come in the form of a hard hat with built-in fans that power off of solar panels on the surface of the hard hat. The idea is interesting. Being that you would need the fans while the sun is out and with the sun powering the solar panels, the fans will always be blowing. However, none of these that we found are in fact ANSI or CSA certified. That means that these do not meet the standards required for any job site in North America. In addition to that, the reviews show that they do work but only for a small period of time before the fans break. A small period of time meaning that they will last days. It is not worth the risk or hassle with these until they become readily available and certified.
Until then, there are options to keep your head cool under your hard hat that are more traditional. These include attachments that protect the back of your neck and absorb your sweat. Ergodyne has an option that you wet with cold water and it cools you for up to 4 hours at a time. It is an excellent option for those working under the sun for long periods of time. It can be machine washed in cold water with mild detergent and air dried for continued use.
Hard Hat Accessories
There are several different hard hat attachments that you can purchase, some of which are already included throughout this post. It is important to understand whether or not these attachments and accessories are authorized by the governing body where you live. If you are an employee, ask your employer. If you are the employer, then you should find the information through your governing body.
This hard hat fan is a good example of this. If you are willing to take a chance on a fan attachment for your hard hat, Zephyr Vane has a 3D printed thermoplastic polyurethane hard hat fan clip. This hard hat fan clip is heat, abrasion, shock, and vibration resistant, as well as high resistance to oil and grease. This product clips onto any full brim hat, and will clip onto short brim hats though will obstruct your view. The fan operates off of 3 AAA batteries for 3-4 hours. With two options of either straight or wide, the fan will provide a great dispersion of area for air circulation. This attachment has not been ANSI or OSHA tested.
Hard hats should never be altered or modified with paint or by puncturing holes into the surface. The only thing that is acceptable are decals that are compatible with the hard hat and not going to alter the surface in any way. Hard hat safety is important and it should be taken seriously. Suspensions should be replaced every year and hard hats according to the manufacturer or when they have been impacted by an object or show signs of wear. Whenever in doubt, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Hard Hat Choices
There are a few things to consider when purchasing a hard hat. First things first is that if you are purchasing a hard hat and you work for somebody, it is important that you consult with them about what you should be purchasing in terms of ANSI / CSA Types and Classes. It is so important that you are choosing the right hard hat for your job. If you are the employer, make sure that you know what risks are present on your job sites and what hard hats you should have for your employees.
Safety comes first on any job site, and a hard hat is an important piece of personal protective equipment. Smaller construction companies may overlook having hard hats on site for their workers, but it is incredibly important that these are made available to your employees on any job site. You are setting the standard for safety in your company, so ensure that you are setting a good standard. Not to mention the fines for getting caught without hard hats on a job site when there should be, as well as if there were to ever be an accident.