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Hard hats are one of the most important types of personal protective equipment on just about any work site, from a massive construction project to a warehouse or distribution center.
But just as there are many different types of workplaces, there also are many different types of hard hats. The one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work when it comes to this critical piece of safety equipment. To optimize safety and security on your job site or workplace, it’s essential that you have the right hard hat for the right job.
Type I and Type II Hard Hats
There are two different groups of hard hats, categorized Type I and Type II.
Type I — Hard hats that are engineered to protect workers’ heads from collisions with objects, such as falling debris or blow that come from above and strike the top surface of the hard hat.
Type II — Hard hats that are designed to provide protection from lateral blows and objects as well as falls or blows from above. This includes impacts from the front, back, side and top of the helmet. Type II hard hats also are engineered to provide protection from off-center penetration resistance and chin strap retention.
Classes of Hard Hats
Hard hats also are categorized into separate and distinct classes. These are Class E, Class G, and Class C:
Class E (Electrical) — These hard hats are designed to withstand up to 20,000 volts of electricity.
Class G (General) — These hard hats are designed to withstand up to 2,200 volts of electricity.
Class C (Conductive) — These hard hats don’t provide any protection from electrical shock.
Class E and Class G hard hats typically are worn by electricians on job sites, linemen working on electrical wires, and other jobs involving electricity. Class C are multi-purpose hard hats that can be worn by construction workers and other workers who don’t typically work with electricity or live wiring.
Hard Hat Materials and Suspension
Most hard hats are constructed from high-density polyethylene that is non-conductive. They also are equipped with interior suspension that can be modified to provide a custom fit.
These suspensions, or straps, typically are available with four, six or eight load-bearing points that can distribute the impact of a blow so that it is less traumatic to the head. These suspensions also can be fitted using various types of adjustments.
These suspensions also can be fitted using various types of adjustments, the most common of which are pinlock, where the hart hat is removed and a pin can be matched to a corresponding hole. The pin works a ratchet attached to a knob that allows the wearer to tighten or loosen the suspension’s fit around the head while the hard hat is in use.
Styles of Hard Hats
Hard hats come in a variety of styles, including cap hard hats and full brim hard hats.
Cap hard hats feature a short rim that protects the eyes from the sun’ s rays. Or the hat can be turned around so that the rim protects the back of the neck.
Full brim hard hats have rims that go all the way around the entire ha to protect the face, neck and ears. They also are helpful for keeping rain and snow off the face and head.