Head Protection FAQ’s
Q: There is a date code on the inside of my hard hat - what does this mean?
A: The date code stamped inside the hard hat refers to the date of manufacture. This is NOT an expiration date.
Q: What is the service life of my hard hat? Is there an expiration date?
A: Hard hats are designed with high quality, wear-resistant materials; however, these materials WILL NOT last forever. The protective properties of the hard hat will degrade over time due to common workplace environments such as temperatures, chemicals, and even sunlight. It is suggested that the entire hard hat be replaced every 5 years. OSHA regulations state that the life of the hard hat begins when the distributor sells to the end user. Example: A hard hat was manufactured in 2015 and was sold in 2016 to a customer meaning the expiration date would be 2021 regardless of the fact that it was manufactured in 2015.
Q: What is the service life of my suspension?
A: Suspensions should be inspected before each use. Suspensions should be replaced every 12 months even if there is no visible damage.
Q: How can I test my hard hat to ensure my safety?
A: You can test your hard hat by doing a Crackle "Pop" Test. To perform this test you need to hold the hat upside down and squeeze the two sides together. If you hear a cracking sound then it is time to replace the entire hard hat to prevent impact injuries.
Q: What should I look for when inspecting my hard hat?
A: The shell and suspension should be inspected before each use. Look for dents, cracks, cuts or gauges in the shell. Check the suspension for frayed straps, cracks, or tears in plastic parts.
Q: Do I need to replace my hard hat if it sustains an impact?
A: Yes. If the hard hat has sustained an impact, dispose of immediately, even if the damage is not visible. Once the hard hat has been impacted the materials weaken and are compromised.
Q: How should I clean my hard hat?
A: For the best results, disassemble the helmet and use mild soap and warm water to remove dirt residue. Rinse the helmet completely after using any cleaning agent.
Q: What Industry Standard or Approval do hard hats need?
A: This can vary globally, because there are various standards in place. In North America the current standards are the ANSI Standard for Head Protection: Z89.1 and the CSA Industrial Protection Headwear: Z94.1. These 2 standards share the type and class descriptors which makes it easier to ensure the right hard hats are being selected for the application. Permanent labels or markings are required on hard hats by both ANSI and CSA standards.
- Type 1: ANSI helmets are intended to reduce the force of impact from a blow only to the top of the head. CSA headwear provides impact and penetration protection for the crown only.
- Type 2: ANSI helmets are intended to reduce the force of impact resulting from a blow to the top or sides of the head. CSA headwear provides impact and penetration protection for the crown and laterally.
- Class C: ANSI helmets are not intended to provide protection against contact with electrical hazards (conductive). CSA headwear does not provide dielectric protection.
- Class G: ANSI helmets are intended to reduce the danger of contact with low-voltage conductors (proof tested at 2,200 volts). CSA headwear is non-conducting and is required to pass the dielectric strength test of 2,200 volts for 1 minute.
- Class E: ANSI helmets intended to reduce the danger of contact with higher voltage conductors (proof-tested at 20,000 volts). CSA headwear is non-conducting and is required to pass the dielectric strength test of 20,000 volts for 3 minutes.
Q: Can I mix and match suspensions and shells?
A: The manufacturer of the hard hat is responsible for conducting the ANSI, CSA, or other tests. The two primary components (shell and suspension) are tested as a unit to meet the standards. Sometimes suspensions are tested with various shells within one manufacturer to ensure compatibility; check with the manufacturer to determine if this is the case. DO NOT interchange suspensions and shells from different manufacturers because they will not have been tested to ensure compliance with the standards. It would likely void certification.
Q: What can I wear beneath my hard hat?
A: Bandanas, skull caps, hoods, or welder's caps that do not contain metal parts should be used only if they are worn smoothly on top of the head. Care should be taken to avoid pressure points. The suspension should still be adjusted to provide a snug/comfortable fit.
Q: What is the advantage/disadvantage to full brim hard hats?
A: Full brim hard hats do not offer any additional protection except for sun blockage. It is a matter of personal preference and employer requirements. Some full brim hard hats (MSA) do not have accessory slots.
Q: What is the difference between the MSA V-Gard and MSA V-Gard Green hard hats?
A: The V-Gard Green Helmet is similar to the traditional MSA V-Gard in that it is made of HDPE. However, unlike traditional hard hats in which the HDPE is sourced from non-renewable sources, the V-Gard Green helmet shell material is sourced entirely from green HDPE which is made of ethylene produced from sugarcane based ethanol.
Q: Are adhesive stickers or paints allowed on hard hats?
A: Applying paint and stickers must be performed in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, unless the employer can demonstrate that the altered protective helmet is equally effective and protective. OSHA would consider painting or placing adhesive stickers acceptable if the manufacturer authorizes the alteration or the employer can demonstrate that the reliability of the helmet is not affected.