What type & class of hard hat do I need?

Hard hats are required PPE at many job sites, and for good reason. You want to protect your head from falling objects, low-hanging steel beams, exposed electrical wiring, and a whole host of other workplace hazards.

There are different types and classes of hard hats, which are designed to provide different levels of protection. But which type and class is right for you?

Type vs. Class

First, it helps to understand the difference between hard hat “type” and hard hat “class.”

“Type” refers to the type of impact protection the hat provides. There are two types: Type I and Type II.

“Class” refers to how well the hat insulates against electric shock. There are three classes: Class G, Class E, and Class C.

The types and classes are defined by ANSI Z89.1 standards and testing procedures. OSHA uses ANSI Z89.1 to set workplace safety rules, so having the right type and class of hard hat is often required by law.

Hard Hat Types

The two types of hard hats are defined based on the direction of the impact hazard: whether you’re in danger of getting hit from directly above, or if you need protection from every angle.

  • Type I hard hats protect your head from falling debris or other impact hazards that can hit you from directly overhead. If you run the risk of having a hammer, a rock, or any other hard object fall on you, a Type I hard hat will keep you covered.
  • Type II hard hats are designed to protect your head from any angle. In addition to protecting you from falling objects, Type II hats will also provide protection from hits to the side, back, or front of the helmet. For example, if your workplace has low-hanging steel beams that you might accidentally walk into, a Type II hard hat will protect you from such horizontal impacts.

Hard Hat Classes

The three classes of hard hats are rated based on the amount of electrical insulation they provide.

  • Class G (General) hard hats are rated to provide protection from up to 2,200 volts of electricity. They are “general” because that level of protection is sufficient for most jobs.
  • Class E (Electrical) hard hats provide a much higher level of protection, and are rated for up to 20,000 volts. They are used by electricians, linemen, or anyone working near high-voltage hazards.
  • Class C (Conductive) hard hats don’t provide any electrical insulation at all. They are “conductive,” meaning they can conduct electricity. Obviously, they are only used in places where there are no electrical hazards, such as road construction or other outdoor work when there are no power lines present. The reason why Class C might be preferable to Class G in these situations is because they can include vents for airflow, or be made of a material that conducts heat, making them cooler and more comfortable to wear.

At Buyer’s Safety, we carry a wide range of hard hats, helmets, and bump caps, and have years of experience in helping our customers choose the right equipment for the job. If you have any questions about head protection or PPE in general, feel free to give us a call.