The 10 Best Hard Hats
This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in July of 2015. Just because your co-workers tell you you're hard-headed, doesn't mean you shouldn't protect your dome while you're on the job. Try one of these hard hats on for size and you should be able to survive falling debris or other dangers that might be lurking above. They're available in a wide range of designs to suit every need and taste. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki. Skip to the best hard hat on Amazon.
Be Hard-Headed For A Hard Hat
As you look straight up, do you get this uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach while imagining what could happen if something were to fall from the top?
Without something to protect your head, you'd be in constant panic about what could potentially happen should your concentration wander.
Imagine yourself walking on the street between two high-rises in close proximity to one another. You look up and are amazed by how tall each building appears. As you look straight up, do you get this uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach while imagining what could happen if something were to fall from the top? Perhaps you might also notice a construction crew on a scaffold working on one of the floors of these buildings or on the ground floor near the foundation. Picture yourself as one of these workers and imagine what could happen if you were not protected from falling objects or sparks from the tools used to perform work on the building's structure.
Without something to protect your head, you'd be in constant panic about what could potentially happen should your concentration wander. Just like common sense would dictate never to reach into a burning hot oven without a pair of safety mitts, one should never operate heavy machinery or work at a construction site without first having head protection. You'll need the reassurance and protection from a durable hard hat to keep you safe when working in potentially dangerous settings like these.
A hard hat is a specially-designed helmet (made from either fiberglass or thermoplastic) that is meant for use in industrial working environments. The hard hat offers protection from blows to the head, impacts from falling objects, debris, rain, and even electric shocks. Most hard hats feature internal suspension bands that help to evenly distribute the weight and force of an impact in case of such an eventuality. The suspension system also provides extra space between the hat's shell and a person's head. If something does happen to strike the hat's shell, the force of that impact is absorbed by the shell and not the wearer's skull.
Hard hats are often equipped with different accessories. A safety visor, for example, comes in handy for a variety of welding jobs to protect the wearer's face. Some hard hats also have additional lips in the front or wide brims for additional shade during hot and sunny days. If there's a lot of debris flying around a construction site, ear protectors can be built into some hard hats. Assuming you're responsible for working underground in a subway system, it would prove useful to attach a headlamp to your hard hat. Hard hats can also include insulated side padding for circumstances where you may find yourself working outdoors in the extreme cold.
Depending on the type of work and organization involved, hard hats are also designated in different colors in order to represent different job functions or locations. For example, a white hard hat might identify a manager or site supervisor, whereas blue could indicate an electric worker.
A Brief History Of Hard Hats
The original concept of the hard hat comes from a California mining equipment firm known as the E.D. Bullard Company, founded by Edward Dickinson Bullard in 1898. Prior to this point, Bullard's company sold protective hats made from leather. However, this idea evolved upon the return of Bullard's son from World War One and the sight of a protective steel helmet.
Bullard further developed his initial invention by adding an internal suspension system to the cap.
By the year 1919, Bullard patented what he called the Hard-Boiled Hat, which was constructed from steamed canvas, glue, and black paint. A follow-up commission from the United States Navy afforded Bullard the opportunity to produce a protective cap for shipyard workers. This cap spawned the widespread use of the hard hat. Bullard further developed his initial invention by adding an internal suspension system to the cap.
In 1938, Bullard created the first aluminum hard hat, setting aluminum as the standard for the time due to its strength and lightweight nature.
The first heat-resistant hard hat was made from fiberglass and appeared in the 1940s. By the 1950s, thermoplastics replaced fiberglass as the standard for hard hat construction because they were easy to shape and less expensive than their fiberglass predecessors.
By 1997, the American National Standards Institute approved the use of ventilated hard hats that would allow workers' heads to stay cool when completing tough jobs. In today's hard hat market, it seems to be all about the accessories, which include attachable face shields, radios, headlamps, cameras, and sun visors among others.
Finding The Best Fit
It goes without saying that suspension and durability make the best hard hat. Providing adequate protection when working at industrial job sites is paramount. For that reason, one must consider the environment they'll be working in. A cutting-edge suspension system will provide superior impact protection in the event that something hits you. The shell of the hard hat will be strong enough to withstand the impact without impacting the skull.
Secondly, a hard hat shouldn't be noticeable. In other words, it should be lightweight and comfortable so that you can concentrate on the work at hand instead of adjusting the hat or complaining about how heavy it feels on your head. For that same reason, finding a hat with a good ventilation system will keep you comfortable, especially when the weather gets hot and you're working outdoors.
Consider the types of accessories you'll need. This will depend on your work situation, but if you'll be doing a lot of underground labor, then a hard hat with a headlamp accessory will definitely come in handy. If you're into welding and operating heavy machinery, then a hard hat with a protective face shield is definitely in your future.
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