Last Updated on August 18, 2021 by Stephen Paul Robertson
A hard hat is a mandatory material for workers who can face potential injuries in their workplace like construction sites. It can protect workers from fatal injuries and even from death. So, taking care and checking your hard hat on a daily basis is a must. How long is a hard hat good for, is the main topic of our discussion.
We will also learn about some OSHA regulations and standards for your safety. Moreover, hard hat types and many other related things. Just like every food or cosmetics, hard hats also have an expiry date. Did you know that? Then, let’s learn all of these things from this article!
Hard Hat Test
Everything produced by any company needs some test by the standard system to make it reliable to customers. The same goes for hard hat production companies too. ANSI required 3 non-mandatory tests that are very easy to understand by normal people. If the helmet passes all those 3 tests, then it will come to market. Now, I will elaborate on those 3 non-mandatory criteria here-
If any helmet is marked with “HV“, it means it meets the high visibility test requirements. Those hard hats will have the higher visible colors even in dark. This test also includes luminescence.
When a helmet has a mark of “LT“, it indicates that that helmet has the maximum tolerance of lower temperature and it succeeded in the lower temperature test. The temperature is maximum time -30°C or -22°F
Some helmets have a mark of, “Reverse donning arrow.” That means that helmets can be worn in both frontward and backward positions. These helmets pass all the requirements of wearing backward or frontward.
Hard Hat Types & Class
Types and classes are different in hard hats. Now I will help you to identify the types and classes. “Type” indicates how much protection the hat will provide when your hat will be hit. On the other hand, “Class” indicates how much a hat can bear the electric shock.
For “types” there are 2 types of hard hats are designed to protect your head. It refers to protect your head from above or any angles. Those 2 types are-
Type 1: This hard hat mainly gives overhead coverage. If anything heavy falls from on head directly from a high position, then this hat will protect your head. For example, any hard rock or hammer falls on someone’s head, then this hat will save them. Mostly the US people use this type of hats.
Type 2: This one will protect your head from any angles. Overhead or lateral head. This hat can reduce the effect of hitting the hat from any angle and keep your head safe. For example, if anyone bumps into low hanging beams, this hat will support the angle and save your head horizontally.
For “Class”, 3 sections are separated according to the amount of electrical tolerance. Those 3 are-
Class E(Electrical): This kind of hard hat have the most tolerance to electrical shock. It can endure 20,000 volts maximum. But remember that, this voltage protection is only for head coverage, not for the whole body. Those people who work in high voltage areas, linemen, or electricians use this type of hat.
Class G(General): For most of the common electrician people, this hat is useful. This hat can endure 2,200 Volts. For the general level of protection, this class is called general.
Class C(Conductive): This class is quite different from the other two. Conducive hard hats don’t provide any electronic protection. They just can contact electricity, that’s why it’s called conductive. These hard hats are worn in those place where is no electrical hazards.
How To Check Hard Hat Expiry Date?
Just like I mentioned before, like everything hard hats have expiry dates too. The expiry date indicates the lifespan of the hard hat. But here is a little different. If you think that like food or cosmetics, a hard hat also has a manufacturing date to expiry date marked, then you are wrong.
At first, on your hat, you need to find out the manufacturing date. Just look carefully around the hat and you will see the date is engraved on the hat. The mark is usually found below the brim section. Take a look inside and you will see some numbers.
Maximum time, the number engraved in the middle like, 09/03, those are manufacturing years. This means the hat was produced in 2009/2003. Then, the arrow pointed number like 3/5, indicates months. Like it was manufactured in March/May. So, if your helmet says, 15 in the middle and 11 in pointed arrow, it means your helmet was made in November 2015.
How Many Years Is A Hard Hat Good For?
As you know how to check the manufacturing date, now you can find our the expiry date. The maximum hard hat has a lifespan of 3 years. Only a few renowned manufacturing companies give 5 years lifespan which is quite rare.
Experts also recommend changing hard hats after 3 years. As we are talking about the head, the main organ of your body, so you should be careful about the material that protects your head. Only if you use it often and it doesn’t have messy conditions, you can use it for 5 years. But if you used it rigorously, then you must change it after 3 years. Calculate the manufacture date for the next 3 years, and you will get the result.
When A Hard Hat Should Be Replaced?
A hard hat needs to replaced when there is any sign of a crack, dents, or beyond the expiry date. Sometimes, people don’t pay attention to the little changes of their hard hats and that leads the drastic damages on them.
I mentioned that a hard hat should be changed within 2 or 3 years, but even in 2 or 3 years, if there is any discoloration, a crack is seen on your hat, that must be changed immediately.
If you are a painting lover like me, you may do some aesthetic paints or doodles on your hat for looking cool, which is forbidden. Paint and any chemical substances make hard hat weak and it becomes fragile. Moreover, check if there are dents, crack, penetration scratches or if it makes any unusual sounds, then be sure it’s time to change your hat.
Without visual checking, you can press your hat together with your hand tightly, if it cracks or makes any scratching sound, then you should understand the result. OSHA didn’t indicate any specific date to replace your hat. But they have mentioned changing your straps and suspensions each year.
One reminder is, don’t use glue or scotch tape to repair any cracks on your hard hat, it’ll rather worsen the situation, not repair it.
Hard Hat Lifespan
How long do hard hats last is a very common question among users? As I stated before, OSHA didn’t make any specific period to mention a hard hat’s lifespan. The lifespan depends on the worksite you work in. If you work in heavy temperatures or under extreme sunlight, then you need to change the hat after 2-3 years.
Even if manufacturers mention that those hard hats will be durable and sturdy for 5 years, but users should check out every single problem of their hard hats. They should change the strap after 12 months.
How Long Are Hard Hats Good For?
Just like I said before, how long is a hard hat good for osha, it not only depends on the expiry date but also the visual daily inspection. A hard hat’s life begins with the date it is worn, so mark the date.
Let’s say, I wore my hard hat today, after 2 months I got hit on the hat by a heavy rock, then I must change the hat immediately because it got damaged and I can’t risk my precious head.
On the other hand, let’s say, I bought a hard hat but didn’t use it for 5 months, then the lifespan of the hat will increase by 5 more months! Things work like this. Plus, check the cracks, dents regularly after work.
You can find the best construction worker hard hat following the link.
What To Do When My Hard Hat is Expired?
I’ll suggest, if your hard hat reaches the expiration date, then even if it looks usable, don’t fool for the look. Even if you haven’t worn the hard hat for those 3-5 years, you can’t use the hard hat. Why?
Manufacturers make a hard hat with plastic. Plastic can lose its sturdiness and can shrink after time. So, it won’t be able to protect your head anymore. But if you stored the hard hat correctly, like far away from sunlight and in a cool place, then you may use it. But as I said, it’s defective and won’t work well as a new hard hat. So, I highly recommend you all, not to go beyond the expiry date.
How long is a hard hat good for, I have seen this question so often that I wished to research and write an article about it for my lovely readers. I hope my article has helped you to understand the basic things. Don’t forget to take care of your hard hat.
Clean your hat with mild soap and warm water often. Check the straps are oaky or not and don’t use paint on them. Sometimes parents visit worksites with their children, in that case, the kids also need head protection. I have another article on Baby Safety Helmets. Please check out the article, if you think it necessary. That’s all for today. Thank you for reading until now!
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Paul, a graduate from the University of California, has been a Safety Advisor for over 5 years in USA. Along with his other 2 partners, who are professional bikers, he has been the chief of the headsafetyguard.com to create mass awareness on an often neglected issue: HEAD SAFETY