Not all hard hats are the same. There are a wide variety of models, sizes, colors, and materials, all of which can effect a hard hat’s usefulness.
All hard hats are designed to protect the wearer from head trauma in the event of a collision with something or a dropped object. But from there, it can become more complicated.
There are a whole set of classifications especially created just for hard hats. So how can you tell how your specific hard hat should be used?
It’s simple. You just ask it.
Look for the Hard Hat Label
Every hard hat used in an industrial or commercial environment is required to include a label or stamp that explains its rating against internationally recognized standards. These requirements — ANSI and the CSA head protection standards — are tested by the hard hat’s original manufacturer and listed on the permanent label or marking on the hat itself.
The ANSI standard requires the hard hat to list its manufacturer, the date of manufacture, it’s Type and Class (more on that in a moment), and its approximate head size. Optional marking can include whether or not it can be worn backward, worn in low temperatures or whether it has been designated as a high visibility hard hat.
CSA standards include the same requirements, as well as the model designation and any required user warning.
Types of Hard Hats
Both the CSA and ANSI have two types of hard hats:
- Type I – Helmets are intended to reduce the force of impact from a blow only to the top of the head.
- Type II – Helmets are intended to reduce the force of impact resulting from a blow to the top or sides of the head.
Similarly, there three classes of hard hats. The most common, Class C, does not protect against electrical hazards.
Class G hard hats are designed to reduce the danger of contact with low-voltage conductors (up to 2,200 volts). Class E hard hats reduce the danger of contact with higher voltage conductors (up to 20,000 volts).
Fire Proof and Chin Straps
The ANSI standard for head protection requires that hard hats be fireproof, prevent force transmission and apex penetration (a blow from above) for all Type I and Type II hats.
For Type II hats only, the ANSI requires impact energy attenuation, off-center penetration protection, and chin-strap tests.
If you aren’t sure how you can use your hard hat, you can always look inside and let your hard hat tell you.