A hard hat is one of the most common types of personal safety equipment. These safety devices provide a first line of protection from hazards such as falling objects, projectiles, bumping one's head on objects, and much more. There are many types, or classes, of hard hats that a safety professional should be aware of.
Each hard hat class is designed specifically to provide protection from certain types of hazards. Learning about the different hard hat classes can help ensure the right hats are used in the right situations to keep everyone safe.
The information about the different classes and types of hard hats is largely determined by ANSI (American National Standards Institute). Its guidelines and other information can be found in standard Z89.1-2014. Both safety managers and employees need to understand the importance of hard hats and how to choose the right ones for each situation.
ANSI Hard Hat Types
The first way hard hats are broken up into different categories is based on the type of hardhat. There are two main types of hard hats, which are:
- Type I - Type I hard hats are designed specifically to provide protection from an impact from above. These are commonly used at construction sites and other areas where work is done high above the ground, which increases the risk of an object being dropped and causing injury.
- Type II - The type II hard hats provide protection from impact from above, but also offer protection from lateral impact. This could be from running into the corner of a steel beam, having a projectile impact from across the room, or any other risk to the sides or back of the head.
ANSI Classes of Hard Hats
In addition to the type categories of hard hats, there are also several classes of hard hats. The classes determine what types of hazards hard hats will protect wearers from. Having the right class of hard hat can mean the difference between life and death in many situations, so having the right option is essential.
- Class E Hard Hats - Class E hard hats are approved for use in areas where exposure to electrical hazards is a possibility. To qualify as a class E hard hat, one must provide the wearer with dielectric protection of as much as 20,000 volts.
- Class G Hard Hats - Class G hard hats are general use hard hats and are the most commonly found hard hats available. They do provide some protection against electricity, but only up to 2200 volts. The primary use for this class of hard hat is to protect against impact hazards.
- Class C Hard Hats - Class C hard hats are not intended to provide any protection against electrical hazards. Instead, this class is designed just to protect from impact hazards. In most cases, a class C hard hat will have built-in vents to help keep the wearer cool, which is why they are commonly found in hot factories or construction yards.