Toolbox Talk: Hard Hats 101

Toolbox Talk: Hard Hats 101

On May 8, 2014, Posted by , In Toolbox Talk, By , , With No Comments

Guide for Discussion:  Hard hats are commonly used in many types of workplaces to protect employees from head trauma caused by falling objects, striking their head against an object, or electrical hazards.  The hard hat is a piece of personal protective equipment designed to individually protect an employee when all other methods of protection cannot.  Often, its use has been required on many work sites since all hazards cannot be eliminated.

There are two types of hard hats -Type 1 and Type 2.

  • Type 1 hard hats reduce the force of impact resulting from a blow only to the top of the head;
  • Type 2 hard hats reduce the force of impact resulting from a blow which may be received off center or to the top of the head.

Two classifications of hard hats have been established for electrical protection.  They are:

  • Class G (General):  this class provides protection from low-voltage conductors and are tested to less than 2,200 volts;
  • Class E (Electrical):  this class provides protection from high-voltage conductors and are tested at 22,000 volts;
  • Class C (Conductive):  this class of hard hats are NOT intended to provide electrical protection.

The shell is the outer portion of the hat, which often has a peak that extends forward or a brim, which extends outward around the entire lower portion of the shell.

The harness is the second component, which attaches to the shell to maintain the hard hat on the wearer’s head.  When a force strikes a properly fitted hard hat, the force is distributed throughout the entire hard hat.  It prevents the force from concentrating at one point.

Inspect a hard hat when it is new and first put into use, prior to each day’s use, and after an incident where the integrity has been challenged.  When inspecting a new hard hat, ensure that it is the proper hat for the job or the exposure to be expected and make sure all parts are included with the hard hat.  Also, follow the manufacturer’s instructions to assemble or attach the parts and adjust the headband for proper fit; snug, but not tight.

When inspecting a hard hat prior to each day’s use, look for the following:

  • gouges;
  • cracks;
  • deterioration;
  • chalking or discoloration;
  • flaking;
  • suspension properly attached to the shell;
  • all straps in good condition;
  • and cleanliness of the suspension and the shell.

When a hard hat is damaged, replace the entire hard hat.

Any question or comment about about when or what type of protective hard hat to use on the job?

NOTE:  Always promote a discussion on any of the topics covered in the Construct Corps, LLC:  Tool Box Talk.  Should any question arise that you cannot readily answer please contact our OSHA Authorized Instructor:

Marcos Caballero:  (813) 498-0359 or

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