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Safety Helmet vs Hard Hat: What’s Safer & Best for You?

Safety Helmet vs Hard Hat
Written by Willie F Brodson

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a safety helmet and a hard hat? Hard hats were first introduced in the early 1950s and have undergone many design changes. Recently, a new player seems to be gaining some traction: the safety helmet.

Today we will put them up against each other so you can be 100% sure which helmet will suit the job best.

Safety helmet: A quick look

The safety helmet features a chin strap that allows you to bend over and move around more freely without worrying about losing the helmet.

Pros

  • Increase the chance of survival in accidents
  • Better visibility on site
  • Protection from falls and falling objects
  • Protection from the sun
  • Can last 10 years

Cons

  • Increased risk-taking
  • Sweating and skin rashes
  • Price point

Hard hat: A quick look

Generally, the hard hat is designed to protect against falling objects and debris. It comes with a suspension that provides cushioning when an external force is applied.

Pros

  • Reduce electrical shock
  • Cost-effective
  • Easy identification
  • Secure and comfortable fit

Cons

  • No side and back protection
  • It can come off when bending over
  • Limited design features

Hard hat vs Safety helmet – How do they differ?

Head Protection Level

Safety helmet

Safety helmets provide all-around head protection.

Hard hat

The protection of the hard hat is centered around the top of the head.

Winner

Injuries can come from all angles; so, the design and chin strap of the safety helmet wins.

Applications

Safety helmet

This helmet has various applications from rigging, tower climbing, rescue teams, and high-rise construction.

Hard hat

More suited for jobs on the ground, you will find them on construction sites, warehouses, and shipbuilding sites.

Winner

The safety hat can be used on the ground and in the air.

Maintenance

Safety helmet

Maintenance for both the safety helmet and hard are very similar; a regular cleaning with soap and warm water and storing in a clean, dry area not exceeding 120 degrees Fahrenheit will do the job.

Hard hat

Make sure to inspect the hard hat before use for cracks, chips, or any signs of damage.

Winner

Easy to clean and with fewer features, the hard hat is the winner in this category.

Durability

Safety helmet

The material largely influences the durability of a safety helmet. The safety helmet can help keep you safe for an extended period with proper care.

Hard hat

Hard hats tend to have a shorter lifespan than safety helmets. On average, they can last up to 3 years in non-harsh environments.

Winner

The safety helmet will give you more extended protection for durability.

Adjustable Chin Strap

Safety helmet

All safety helmets come with a standard adjustable chin strap, ideal for high-altitude jobs.

Hard hat

The standard hard hat does not include a chin strap, but some manufacturers do offer the option of one.

Winner

The safety helmet has you covered in this department.

Extra Back-of-head Coverage

Safety helmet

Because of its design, the safety helmet will provide excellent coverage around the back end of the head.

Hard hat

On the other hand, hard hats are designed to protect the wearer’s head from lateral impacts from falling objects. As a result, the back of the head coverage is minimal.

Winner

The safety helmet wins this round with its all-around protection.

Pre-assembled six-point Suspension

Safety helmet

Its six-point suspension system conforms to the shape of the user’s head for maximum comfort.

Hard Hat

The easy-to-adjust six-point Ratchet suspension allows you to change the fit while wearing the hat.

Winner

As the hard hat has been around longer and more people are accustomed to them, they are the winner in this category.

Front-to-back Ventilation

Safety helmet

The front-to-back air movement is standard on all safety helmets, keeping excellent circulation flowing over the day.

Hard hat

Hard hats come with good ventilation and help keep you cool in the summer months.

Winner

The safety helmet comes with more ventilation holes and does a better job at keeping you cool.

Magnetic Accessories

Safety helmet

Though a little limited, the safety helmet still offers great accessories like face shields, earmuffs, lighting, etc.

Hard hat

The hard hat has been perfected over the years to accommodate accessories.

Winner

With its high range of accessories and customizability, the hard hat is the clear winner.

Price

Safety helmet

The starting price range of safety helmets is in the low $20 range.

Hard hat

Starting at around $5, the hard hat is inexpensive and widely available.

Winner

Here the hard hat wins hands down.

Safety helmet vs hard hat: What’s best for you?

The major differences between these helmets are traditionally the hard hat featured on construction sites and safety helmets in sports.

The hard hat design is simplistic, whereas the safety helmet has more features. The central differentiating part is the chin strap situated on the safety helmet.

Both hard hats and safety helmets cover the top of the head, but safety helmets also protect the head’s side and back. A safety helmet is developed to withstand greater forces than a hard hat and be used for a more extended period.

Technology-wise the safety helmet is at the forefront of innovative design, improving the safety of its users. The hard hat design is more simplistic and traditional.

FAQs

1. What does a black hard hat mean?

Ans. Some generally accepted industry standards can help you provide a safer, more organized work environment consistent with many other job sites. Different color hard hats signify a particular profession on-site, and in general, site supervisors usually wear a black hard hat.

2. How do hard hats expire?

Ans. Hard hats have an average shelf life of around three years. All hard hats have an expiration date printed on the inside of the helmet’s shell.

3. Is there an expiry date for a safety helmet?

Ans. The maximum shelf life of a safety helmet is five years from the manufactured date. By looking under the brim, you will be able to see the date of manufacture.

About the author

Willie F Brodson

Certified by the Board of Certified Safety Professionals and a master of Science in Occupational Safety Management from Indiana State University, Willie F Brodson is an occupational safety expert who believes in the age-old saying – “It is better to be safe than sorry.”

Willie’s areas of expertise include legal guidelines for health and safety, coding and construction safety, fire prevention and theft, and environmental technology. Over a span of four decades, he has provided safety training and consultation and developed safety manuals for a number of state-owned and private organizations.

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