Construction Hard Hats 101: Everything You Need to Know

construction hats

When most people think about construction safety wearables, their minds instantly go to the classic hard hat. Construction hard hats are classics for a reason – throughout the last century, they’ve provided much-needed protection for workers in all kinds of settings. Learning more about them can help explain why they’re so necessary for worker safety. 

What are Construction Hard Hats?

Construction hard hats are a form of personal protective equipment (PPE) worn while on the job site. They protect workers from harmful UV rays, falling objects, toxic chemicals, and more. Originally made from canvas and leather, modern OSHA approved hard hats are now made from polyethylene for enhanced durability. 

OSHA Requirements for Construction Hard Hats

Two main OSHA standards govern hard hat requirements: 

  • 29 CFR 1910.135 outlines requirements for general industry workers
  • 29 CFR 1926.100 details head protection requirements for construction, demolition, and renovation workers

Both of these construction hard hat standards require workers to wear hard hats any time there is the potential for falling objects, impacts, or electrical shocks. 

Type I vs. Type II Hard Hats

There are two main types of hard hats. Type I provides protection for the top of the head and is more commonly used in the United States. Type II hard hats provide protection for both the top and sides of the head, and are more common in Europe. You can usually spot the difference between these hats by looking at their brims; Type I hard hats are designed with full brims, while Type II hats feature short brims. 

Construction Hard Hat Accessories

The standard construction hard hat is just the beginning. Workers can add accessories to make them fit better and protect from additional hazards. Chin straps, for instance, are designed to prevent hats from falling off when working during high winds. Sun shields protect from harmful UV rays. As winter comes around, headlamp accessories become necessary for hard hats. Hard hat liners can also be helpful to keep workers warm in the winter and cool in the summer.  

Hard Hat FAQs

While hard hats are certainly pervasive, many workers find they have questions about their use. Here are a few answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about construction hard hats:

What Do Hard Hat Colors Mean? 

OSHA approved hard hats come in several different colors, indicating who is carrying out what role on the job site. White hats are for foremen, engineers, and supervisors. Yellow hats are designated for general laborers. Green hats are worn by inspectors, safety officers, and trainees. Welders wear brown hard hats, while road construction workers don orange versions. Blue hard hats are reserved for carpenters and electricians. Gray hats are frequently issued to site visitors. 

What are Full Brim Hard Hats for?

Full brim hard hats offer 360-degree protection for workers. They provide shade from the sun while simultaneously protecting against falling objects, electrical hazards, and non-toxic splashes. Full brim construction hard hats are considered standard in the United States.

Are Metal Hard Hats Illegal?

Metal or aluminum hard hats are not illegal, but they’re also not recommended for anyone exposed to dangers of electrocution. While such hats can indeed protect against falling objects and accidental blows to the head, they can conduct electricity and increase the risk of electrocution. Part of preparing for workplace accidents means donning the proper safety attire, and metal hard hats typically don’t compare with polyethylene versions. 

How Long are Hard Hats Good for?

Ever wondered how long are hard hats good for? While construction hard hats don’t technically have expiration dates, most should be used for no longer than five years. Be on the lookout for cracks, dents, and holes – all indications that your hard hat is in need of replacing. 

Do Construction Companies Provide Hard Hats?

OSHA requires employers to issue hard hats to workers any time they are exposed to falling objects. 

Enhance Safety with OSHA-Certified Training

Construction safety gear has come a long way through the years. Hard hats are the safest they’ve ever been, providing much-needed protection in even the harshest of industrial environments. The latest advancements in safety wearables can’t replace the need for proper training, though. Combining construction hard hats and other wearables with OSHA-compliant training is a great way to prioritize safety among your team. For affordable, convenient training, turn to

Get your workforce OSHA-certified today and add another high tech safety protocol to your list of best practices. Learn more and sign up online or call 888-278-8896 for more information. 

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