Hard hats are categorized according to class (degree of shock protection) and type (degree of general protection). Electricians and those in school or an apprenticeship will want to consider hard hat options high in class — see Class E below — for sufficient protection against electrical shocks up to 20,000 volts.
It’s important that electricians obtain the correct hard hat size, for an appropriate, secure fit on the job. Consult a hard hat sizing chart to identify the best individual option for you. To take accurate head size measurements, use a soft tape measure to gauge the circumference of your head at the widest point.
Hard hats also vary in composition and style. Electricians should seek out non-conductive hats — hard hats not able to conduct electricity — with high density, to protect against falling or moving objects at active sites. And don’t forget to consider all available styles: hard hats are made with individually sized front and backward-facing brims, at individual thickness levels depending on necessity. From color to class, electricians should know their options to select PPE that’s ideal for their environment.
OSHA and ANSI Compliance
Federal labor agencies also outline several requirements to ensure safe activity in and around active job sites, specifically, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
Hard hats dutifully protect the head and neck area from impact and injury, an absolute staple for any seasoned contractor. Especially for electricians — licensed wiring experts regularly exposed to open currents, active job sites, and potential electrocution — hard hats help make personal protection a constant priority. Already subject to several state-specific electrical contractor license requirements, electricians create a safe, functional electronic infrastructure for any residential or commercial job site.
Hard hats offer electricians necessary, much-needed safety amid hazardous work environments. The job often calls for extensive work in and around active construction zones, where unfinished buildings require electrical system installation, repair, and management. Dangers like electrical burns, falling objects, and even high temperatures can compromise visibility or concentration and make basic construction site safety a must. Electricians who understand the potential danger of a job site outfit themselves in protective hard hats, alongside other electrician-specific personal protective equipment and clothing.
The passive protection that a hard hat provides can easily mean the difference between a successful day at work and a serious workplace injury. Among other essential construction site tools, an electrician’s hard hat promotes comfort on the job without exposure to the elements.
Hard Hat Considerations Before Buying
Consider the options before deciding on the hard hat that’s right for you. Look for ANSI or OSHA-specific labeling on any hard hat before purchase, to ensure it accommodates class and type requirements. A hard hat’s type and class will be clearly outlined on the product, likely inside the hat’s brim. These designations are important to ensure compliance with federal guidelines, ultimately protecting electricians against falling debris and stray electrical charges.
OSHA 1926.100 also mandates that electricians wear hard hats effective against contact with objects and electrical hazards alike. Always make sure your hard hat complies with the most recent updates to OSHA and ANSI hard hat safety standards, before entering a job site. Both OSHA and ANSI have been known to levy fines well over $1,000 per incident for occurrences when hard hat safety standards were not met.
Suspension systems in hard hats provide an insulated barrier between the hat’s tough shell and the top of your head. Your head rests naturally against the hard hat’s suspension system, improving comfort and offering additional space between your head and any potential hazards. Suspension systems can also improve the overall life of your hard hat and are easily adjustable with a twist knob or clip system to accommodate your unique head size. And with a comprehensive variety of suspension system fit, style, and sizing options, suspension systems help contour your head more appropriately to your hard hat without compromising compliance.
Complying with hard hat safety protocol doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice comfort. Especially for long days in the elements, a comfortable hard hat can mean the difference between a job well done and a headache you can’t shake. To create a snug fit between hat and head, you should leave roughly 1-1.25 inches between the top of your head and the helmet itself.
Ultimately, hard hats are designed primarily as protective tools. As such, it’s important to seek out a reputable hard hat capable of enduring construction accidents. Hard hats should be proactively inspected every 4-6 months, even if the hat itself has not experienced any duress. Testing your hard hat means performing simple tests to ensure fit and function are not compromised. Consider compressing the hard hat from the sides with your thumbs to ensure it resists prolonged impact, and don’t forget to visually inspect the suspension system for any tears or worn fabric.
If your hard hat has endured any incident, electricians should perform an immediate inspection for any compromised integrity to the shell or suspension.
Types of Electrical Hard Hats
Hard hats are divided into specific types and classes, to help contractors identify the optimal protective gear for individual tasks. Electricians can choose from among three electrical class hard hat options — classes E, G, and C — depending on the degree of shock and electrical exposure protection required for specific assignments.
Understanding protection by class is critically important during the hard hat selection process, to protect electricians from the specific electrical threats often encountered during work.
Type I hard hats are specifically engineered to guard against vertical blows to the head. Any individuals primarily concerned with the threat of objects falling from above should consider the use of a Type-I hard hat, effective in protection against threats like falling debris or tossed objects. While this hard hat type is excellent in protection against threats from above, it can leave contractors susceptible to increased lateral impact danger — threats approaching horizontally.
Type II hard hats help contractors guard against impacts approaching horizontally. Whether it’s a swinging beam or an exposed wire, lateral threats are often unseen and commonly hazardous. That’s why Type-II hard hats are commonly lined with interior foam and protective suspension systems, to deaden lateral impacts as they approach. In protecting against lateral dangers, Type-II hard hats provide less insurance against threats approaching from above.
Hard Hat Style: Full-Brim vs. Front-Brim
Electricians should also familiarize themselves with the differences between hard hat styles. From front-facing sun protection to the shape of the hat itself, hard hat style goes a long way toward providing full-scale defense against workplace hazards.
Front-brim hard hats work to minimize exposure to rain or other elements during the day. As long as the hard hat maintains full OSHA and ANSI compliance, these hats can also be worn backward so that the front-facing brim protects the back of the neck.
Lineman hard hats are often full-brim hard hats, given the more extensive coverage of exposed face, ears, and neck. While electricians certainly prefer to work away from elements like rain or snow, full-brim hats also work to keep precipitation away from the eyes and mouth. Of course, with an increase in hard hat brim can also come a decrease in mobility, so electricians should consider the flexibility required at each job site before selecting a hard hat style most appropriate for the situation.
What Is a Vented Hard Hat?
Much like traditional hard hats, vented hard hats offer similar levels of all-around safety, with a major perk: sweat protection and cooling. The nature of electrical work requires physical labor, which often results in sweat and increased temperatures. Vented hard hats help you combat sweat and heat, essentially venting the top of the hat without compromising the integrity of the hat itself. Importantly, vented hard hats are OSHA compliant, and can even offer increased safety levels in addition to their valuable cooling features.
Hard Hat Electrical Classes
Hard hats are segmented into classes according to electrical resistance. Electrical hard hat classes C, G, and E provide the most electrical protection at the job site. It’s critically important that electricians fully understand hard hat class designations, to make informed decisions regarding the best hard hat for individual work environments.
Class C Hard Hat
Class C hard hats are engineered primarily for protection against impact threats and overall Jobsite danger. Not protective against a high degree of electrical danger, Class C hard hats are optimized instead for breathability, durability, and life. These hard hats are often made of aluminum or other conductive materials, unlike their Class G and E counterparts. While especially useful for contractors performing non-electrical work, Class C hard hats are rarely appropriate for electrical work in any capacity, even post-work examinations and safety checks.
Class G Hard Hat
Class G hard hats protect the wearer against a varying degree of low-voltage exposure. Once known as “Class A” hard hats, Class G options are safe for use in environments characterized by wiring up to 2,200 volts. Unlike the Class C build, Class G hard hats are non-conductive and typically composed of polyethylene, sacrificing durability and frame for pure protection against dielectric hazards.
Class E Hard Hat
Class E hard hats offer maximum protection against electrical threats in the workplace. Safe against dielectric exposure up to 20,000 volts, it’s a hard hat commonly employed by utility workers facing frequent exposure to high-voltage elements. Formerly known as “Class B” hard hats, Class E hats are made of polyethylene or resins that provide all-out protection against the most intimidating electrical environments.
Hard Hat Color Meaning
Hard hat coloration makes it easy to identify contractor roles at active construction sites. For example, foremen wear different hard hat colors than general contractors. Whether electricians are looking for information on a particular job site or want to consult appropriate authority when problem-solving, hard hat color coding provides active context to the situation daily.
Here’s a quick hard hat coloration guide:
- White hard hats indicate administrative or highly-ranked job site members, responsible for executive-level decision making. White hard hats are worn by onsite managers, architects, and supervisory staff.
- Yellow hard hats like the Pyramex Ridgeline HP54131 identify general contractors without a specialization and are worn by laborers and anyone operating machinery.
- Green hard hats are worn by safety inspectors, given the color’s association with a safe workplace environment. Oftentimes, new workers will also wear green hats to indicate their probationary status.
- Blue hard hats indicate electricians and are also worn by any onsite medical personnel.
- Orange hard hats are typically visible from far distances and are therefore hard hats commonly worn by road construction crews.
- Brown hard hats characterize workers involved with high levels of heat, including welders.
- Red hard hats are mentally associated with fire, danger, or enhanced hazard levels. As such, these hard hats, including the Lift Dax Fiber Resin HDF-200RG, are typically reserved for firefighters and emergency crews.
- Grey hard hats are worn by any daily visitors to the job site.
Most Comfortable Hard Hats
For many, comfort is one of the primary factors considered when purchasing a hard hat. That’s why we’ve taken the opportunity to outline hard hats options that promote high levels of comfort and durability in the workplace. While these options won’t compromise your safety, they’ll ensure comfort remains a priority from the first minute of your day to the last.
Pyramex Ridgeline Full Brim Hard Hat Matte Black Graphite Ratchet HP54117
The Pyramex Ridgeline HP54117 premiere comfort option offers a simple, full-brim feel with comfort underneath. A 4-point suspension system helps to balance the hat evenly across the contour of your head, and the replaceable front-facing pad gives your brow a rest as you work. The Pyramex HP54117 even offers custom imprinting, for a customized look and feel. Fully ANSI compliant, this matte black option can help any electrician feel at home on the job site.
Honeywell Ratcheting Hard Hat, 4 Point, White
A 4-point versatile option for the flexibility-minded electrician, the Honeywell Ratcheting Hard Hat provides high levels of comfort without the high price tag. Featuring 3-level height adjustment and individual anchor points for your chin strap, it’s an option that any electrician would trust for streamlined job completion. Perfect for both residential and commercial job environments, the Honeywell hard hat protects against weather and discomfort alike.
Lift Safety Hdfm-17kg Carb Fiber Hard Hat
For the particularly comfort-minded electrician, the Lift Safety Hdfm-17kg Carb Fiber Hard Hat deserves to serve as your go-to PPE of choice. Featuring a 6-point suspension system for premium comfort and oversized ratcheting that can adjust the hard hat to each head, there isn’t a better full-brim option on the market than this Dax Carbon Fiber option.
Best Lightweight Hard Hats
For long hours spent on the job, flexibility quickly becomes key. Electricians interested in lightweight hard hat options will be thrilled to know that a series of lightweight hard hats have been engineered specifically for them. Check out our suggestions for the lightest, most protective electrician-specific hard hats available today.
Morris, 53242 White Hard Hat
For the price-minded electrician looking for a full range of protection and a high degree of flexibility, the Morris 53242 hard hat is an ideal option worth considering. With reinforced ribs and a lightweight shell, this hard hat is fully ANSI-compliant and features extra impact protection at the top.
Pyramex Ridgeline Cap Hard Hat White Ratchet HP44110
A lightweight design and widespread comfort features make the Pyramex Ridgeline HP44110 option well worth your consideration. Wildly affordable and featuring a low-profile design, Pyramex delivers a hard hat option ideal for electricians looking for durability and quick movement capabilities. Adjust your suspension with a single knob, and experience all-day comfort from rear padding.
Best Low Profile Hard Hats
Many electricians look for a lower center of gravity in their hard hats, improving balance and promoting all-day comfort. Low profile doesn’t always offer the full-scale protection you’d come to expect from some of the full-brim options on the market today, though they are still fully compliant with federal mandates. If you’re interested in a stylish, low-riding hard hat option for a better feel and improved hat balance on the head, a low-profile hard hat is ideal for you.
Pyramex Ridgeline Cap Hard Hat Yellow Ratchet Hp44130
Ultra-light design comes in handy when it comes to the Pyramex Ridgeline HP44130, a low-profile hard hat option that allows you to tailor hat fit and feel to your personal preferences. A rear-facing knob allows you to easily adjust suspension, and swinging hinge points make flexibility a constant priority. The low profile keeps your center of gravity low, and vented pressure padding keeps comfort high all day.
Pyramex Ridgeline Full-Brim Hard Hat Matte White Graphite Ratchet Hp54116
For a full-brim, low-profile hard hat option, look no further than the Pyramex Ridgeline HP54116. Enjoy 4-point suspension or convert to a 6-point suspension system, with a low-profile design that makes balance a key point of emphasis. Custom imprinting is available, allowing you to personalize this hard hat according to preference. And with a replaceable soft brow pad, your head has an extra rest point to prevent excessive sweat during long hours.
Hard Hat Accessories
Modern hard hat design goes a long way toward promoting comfort and all-day flexibility, through a wide range of style options engineered to make an electrician’s job easy and safe. Hard hat accessories help you tailor your hat to a specific desired function and feel; hard hat chin straps and sweatbands are washable and help evenly distribute pressure across the entire hat. And for even more protection against the elements, a thermal hard hat liner or cooling skull cap can help you arrive and remain at the temperature you want. Hard hat pads even provide rear cooling on demand.
If visibility is a priority, a wide-angle flood beam headlamp provides clear illumination for hours. And if your regular inspection reveals a deteriorating suspension system, not to worry: this replacement hard hat suspension system is easy to install and even easier to enjoy.
Whether you’re looking to further enhance your hard hat’s comfort or protection, suspension system, or fit, hard hat accessories keep you safe and productive.
Electrician Hard Hat Stickers
Hard hat stickers also provide an opportunity for additional style, classification, or safety on the job site. For example, visitor stickers and foreman adhesives help define workplace roles, while qualified rigger and superintendent stickers imply licensed positions. Medical technician and CPR-certified stickers can even help identify onsite healthcare staff. For added safety, electricians can wear reflective hard hat stripe stickers, visible in harsh work environments and low-light settings.
How to Care for Your Hard Hat
Caring for your hard hat, especially as an electrician, should remain a priority from day one. It’s important to take care of all protective equipment, especially items potentially responsible for life-saving measures once the workday begins. Keeping your hard hat in the best shape possible means taking the time to ensure it’s not compromised in any way.
Here are a few simple ways you can prioritize hard hat care:
- Keep your hard hat out of direct sunlight to ensure it maintains efficiency.
- Do not modify the helmet shell.
- Keep head clear of heavy objects.
- Replace sweatbands, brow pads, and suspension systems regularly.
- Do not expose your hard hat to sharp objects.
- Store your hat in a cool, dry environment.
- Clean your hat regularly with warm, soapy water and rinse thoroughly.
- Inspect your hard hat regularly for rips, tears, cracks, or thinning.
These and other common-sense care tactics will ensure your hard hat can function for extended periods. If you can commit to keeping your hard hat safe, it will consistently return the favor.
How Long Are Hard Hats Good For?
Like most items, hard hats require regular replacement. Eventually, hard hats will expire, as the elements used to create the hard hat will wear out, grow old, and eventually deteriorate. While you’ll want to check with your specific manufacturer to identify the expected life cycle of your hard hat, electricians should consider replacing hard hats at least once every five years. If electricians work under more extreme conditions, this replacement cycle can repeat as often as every two years, even if your hard hat doesn’t show any evident signs of age.