Hard Hat Color Code and Their Meaning: Know Before Wearing It!

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Hard hats have become part and parcel of nearly all construction sites around the globe. But, there is a little known evidence about when they first came to use. Although there are several unverified claims about its first use. 

While some credit its first use to construction site workers in America in 1930, others attributed it to Franz Kafka in 1912. Whatever the case may be, hard hats have been a vital safety gear for workers.

What is a hard hat? Hard hats are a type of helmet or cap worn as a form of protection by workers on construction or industrial sites to protect the head from injuries. It protects against falling material, debris, electric shock, and other types of danger that cannot be foreseen.

You might wonder why a protective gear comes in different colors, or if you can choose to wear any color you like. Another question frequently asked is, if the color has a meaning to it.

As you read on, you will find the answer to these questions and many more concerning hard hats and their color code.

Why Do You Need a Hard Hat?

Hard hats are a crucial part of the construction sites, and some of the reasons are as follows.

  • They are used to protect the head and brain from being hit while working. Accidents associated with the head are usually severe and can result in permanent damages or even loss of life.
  • Hard hats also serve as a form of protection in case of falls and other unpredictable circumstances.
  • It also protects the eyes, neck, and ear from precarious material in the site.
  • Electricians, carpenters, plumbers, welders, laborers all use hard hats to protect themselves from different types of hazards related to their specific workplace.
  • The color coding system of hard hats allows you to identify workers and their responsibilities.
  • There are specially made hard hats that have provision for a variety of things, e.g., miners light attachment, earmuffs, face shields, reflective stripes, and many more. This serves to provide additional protection to the user.

Types and Classes of Hard Hats

Hard hats have different types and classes; knowing which to use for your profession ensures maximum safety in the field.

There are two (2) types of hard hats, these are:

Type I

This type of helmet has a full brim covering its dome and only protects the top of the head against an impact with foreign objects. In essence, it only protects against threats from above.

Type II

Type 2 helmets have foam lining their inner parts that help protect the head both vertically and laterally. Since they lack the brim, some have a small rim in the front.  They protect both the top of the head as well as the side of the head from impact. It offers full protection to the head.

There are three (3) classes of hard hats;

Class E (Electrical)

These types of helmets are made from a non-conductive material. It serves to protect the head from electrical threats of up to 20,000 volts. Note that, the protection is only for the head; therefore, the electrical current can get to other parts of the body if not appropriately protected.

Class G (General)

They are also non-conductive but only protect against a limited voltage of about 2,200 volts. Also, it can protect against the impact of falling objects in addition to low electrical current. It offers general protection.

Class C (Conductive)

This type of helmet was made from a lightweight conductive material. It is not suitable to be used by electricians or for electrical purpose because it was not tested for protection against electrical current.

Hard Hat Color Code and Meaning

Now, we answer the question that has been on your mind; do hard hat  colors matter? Well, they do. The color of the hat is meant for a specific purpose. So, you cannot just pick any color and wear. How would you know which to wear? We have got you covered.

The color code for hard hats sometimes varies from country to country and even across industries. There are, however, a few generally accepted guidelines. 

White Hard Hat

White  color is easy to spot in a pool of people; hence, they are worn by highly ranked individuals, such as  managers, engineers, architects, and supervisors. Vehicle marshals also wear this color paired with a high visibility vest.

Yellow Hard Hat

This is for general workers that have no specialty. They are usually worn by workers that operate heavy machinery. This includes laborers and earthmovers.

Green Hard Hat

Green Hard Hat

Safety inspectors are known to wear this color of hats. This can be because green is generally associated with safety. Another set of workers that wear these are new workers to indicate that they are on a probationary period.

Blue Hard Hat

Technical operators like electricians use blue hats. Others that also wear this color of hats are the medical personnel.

Orange Hard Hat

Orange is a highly visible color; this is why road construction workers use it. They are also used by lifting operatives, banks-man slingers and traffic marshals.

Brown Hard Hat

This is associated with workers that use high heat application like the Welders.

Red Hard Hat

Red is usually associated with fire and danger. This is why firefighters and emergency workers use this colored hat.

Grey Hard Hat

Visitors on the site usually wear this color of hats.

Pink Hard Hat

Pink Hard Hat

The pink hat is usually worn by workers that forgot their helmets at home as a form of punishment. It is also used by workers whose hats are broken until they get a replacement. These colors of hats are even more popular with females.

You might have noticed that you do not see all these color of hats on sites; this is because the white, red, blue and orange are more popular. Also, remember to ask about the color code for each place before starting to work.

This is because as mentioned earlier, it varies from industry to industry. In addition, while some don’t take it seriously, there have been reports of sites that were grounded because workers wore the wrong hat color.

Importance of Hard Hat Color Code

Now that you understand what each color of hat means, it is safe to ask; why do I even need to adhere to this code? In anticipation of that, we gathered some of the reasons below:

  • To know whom to contact, especially during an emergency. When workers wear hats based on their roles, it is easy to identify medical personnel, firefighters, and others when there is an emergency.
  • Supervisors can quickly identify each worker and locate who they are looking for.
  • Workers can easily find their colleagues while on site. This can improve their relationship with each other. It also enables them to ask vital questions when working.
  • Following this system would ensure that the tradition continues and others benefit from these rules.

​Hard Hat Safety Standard 

These types of hats come in different make, and since they are primarily made for protection, they must meet a certain standard. This will ensure that they can provide the desired protection.

Therefore, an excellent hard hat should have the following qualities:

  • Shock absorption resistance to prevent shock from getting to the head of the wearer.
  • It should prevent sharp objects from penetrating through it.
  • A good hat should prevent electrical current from passing through it.
  • Also, it should prevent water from getting to its interior and touching the user.
  • It should also deter heat from getting to the wearer.

​Taking Care of Your Hard Hat

Hard hats are, without a doubt essential seeing that they prevent the head and face from injuries and harm. Moreover, knowing that accidents are almost inevitable in workplaces, it is vital to be able to take care of your hat.

By doing so, you are safeguarding yourself and ensuring that the hats are at their best always. Here are some vital few tips to ensure that your hats don’t get damaged quickly, hence can offer maximum protection.

  • Always ensure that you keep the hat away from direct sunlight. Doing so can make the hat lose its effectiveness.
  • Clean the hat at regular intervals with warm soapy water.
  • Replace all hats that were involved in an accident even when there are no visible faults.
  • Make sure you store the hat at a cool and dry place.
  • Do not expose it to sharp objects, thinners, solvent-based adhesives, chemicals, and paint.
  • Putting too many stickers on the hat can be counter-productive.
  • Do not change or modify the shell of the helmet.
  • Sweatbands and other parts should be replaced when the need arises.
  • Do not carry heavy objects on your head while wearing it.
  • You should also never wear it backward, unless when specified by the manufacturer.

These are some of the essential tips that will ensure that you use the hat for a long time without causing damages to it. You should also check for other suggestions from manufacturers to help you do that.

Another thing to note is that helmets, hard hats inclusive, do have an expiration date. This is because the materials they are made from can deteriorate with constant use and time. Check with the manufacturer to know yours. Ensure that you change the helmet as at when due.

Conclusion

As much as we can’t say at what point people started using hard hats, we can, however, note that they have become one of the most crucial protective equipment of our time.

Color-coding for hard hats has also been a good practice that prevents chaos in worksites and also ensures ease of work for both the employers and the employees. Knowing these codes will help you choose the type and color of hat to buy.

You have also read other significant information regarding this type of helmet. This will help you properly manage the hat and similarly ensure that you use at its optimum.

Finally, as much as it is good to know these, it is equally important to apply this knowledge in your day-to-day activities. This will ensure that you get the most out of this instrument.

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