When you look at the various types of construction helmets available today, what do you see? For starters, many are made out of the same materials, have the same colors, and come with similar components. However, each type has its advantages and disadvantages. Which one to use depends on certain factors related to the work environment. We will discuss this further below, so keep reading.
What is a Construction Helmet?
A construction helmet, or “hard hat”, is a kind of protective hat worn on construction and industrial work sites to safeguard the head from injuries sustained from falling objects, collisions, bumps, scrapes, or hazardous electrical shocks. Hard hats can also protect the head from UV radiation, raindrops, and falling debris of all kinds.
Types of Construction Helmets
Construction Helmets are divided into types (1, 2) and classes (G, E, C).
The most commonly used is type 2 because they prevent injury from impact from both the sides and top of the head. Type 1 prevents damage from falling objects only.
Each industry uses a different class of construction helmets, such as:
Class G: These are used in high-heat and low voltage jobs such as metalworking, smelting, forging, and welding.
Class E: These hard hats protect against high-voltage electrical conductors. They are used in electric power industries, such as power plants and utilities, telephone and power line installation, and building construction.
Class C: These are general purpose and do not protect against electrical arc so are only used in industries such as mining or milling, and home and office construction phases where electrical hazards are not present.
For more information on types and classes of hard hats, see our post Hard Hat Standards.
Construction Helmet Colors
Construction helmets come in various colors which serves to distinguish the wearer from others depening on task, seniority, and work group.
For more information, see our post Construction Helmet Color Code.
Hi-Viz Construction Helmets
Some construction helmets are hi-viz, meaning they include colors and components that made the hard hat stand out visually. This includes reflective tape and special fade-proof colors.
Hi-viz helmets are ideal for road workers and those near cranes and heavy equipment to make sure they can be easily seen at all times.
Adding Graphic Artwork To a Construction Helmet
Some construction helmets come with full graphic designs, or you can add them yourself with decals or paint. Graphic artwork options include images such as flags, animals, and birds, company and sports team logos. Additional stickers can be added to hard hats for extra safety and identification, or just for aesthetic purposes.
Workers who wear these kinds of helmets are often experienced crew members who know their craft well and have made it a long-term occupation.
Brands of Construction Helmets
There are multiple brands of construction helmets available, including:
- Ability One
- ERB Safety
What Are Construction Helmets Made Of?
Construction helmets are made from various materials depending on the needs of the job site. These include:
- Carbon fiber and composites
- EVA foam insert
- ABS material
- Polymer film coating
- PC/ABS composite
Manufacturers are continually testing and including more advanced materials to provide additional puncture and impact resistance. For example, Kevlar is a very light but strong material or carbon fiber that offers a high level of scratch resistance and potentially higher heat insulation. Some of these can be more along the lines of marketing gimmicks, so it is up to the wearer to decide which hard hat material is best.
Construction helmet materials must protect against falling debris, scratches, scrapes, minor impacts, harmful UV rays, rain, heat and cold.
Construction Helmet Components
- Hard molded shell
- Suspension system including crown straps and headband
- Optional chin strap
- Optional front clear visor (depending on the model)
- Brim – full, long or short
- Front rechargeable headlamp
- Replaceable sweatband and top pad that is breathable and machine washable.
- Adjustable full and partial vents for air circulation
- 4-point, 6-point, and 8-point suspension system including crown straps and headband
- Adjustable sizes with large ratcheting knob
- Forehead padding for comfort and impact softening
- Reinforced crown of the helmet for extra strength against falling debris
- Side-slots for accessory mounting
- Rim grip on each site
A construction helmet can come with a brim that covers the brow and can be full, short, or long brim. While front-brim helmets are generally used indoors and areas where the sun is not harsh, full-brim provides additional protection outdoors where the sun is harsh.
A face shield can be included which should cover the entire face.
Most modern construction helmets also have built-in impact absorption systems that spread the force of the impact across the entire helmet. These provide a space of ~1 inch between the hard hat’s shell and the wearer’s head which creates an area that allows the impact to be absorbed.
Each construction helmet will have unique components that should meet the safety standards designation for that type and class of hard hat. For more information, see our post, Hard Hat Standards.
Prices of Construction Helmets
Construction helmets have prices ranging from ~$10 to as high as ~$250. Higher-end helmets are often made of newer and more advanced materials which add to their price.
Different industries may require helmets that meet tighter standards and this can increase the price as well. Also, helmets with designs and artwork may cost more than ordinary colored ones. Similarly, additional accessories such as front lamps and face shields will also add more expense over base models.
With today’s technology, each one of these types of construction helmets offers a different level of protection, and the right type can mean the difference between life and death on the job.
Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree in Economics from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use.