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2 Types & 3 Class Standards of Hard Hats | MySafetyTools

Written by Willie F Brodson
Last Update: September 28, 2022

Hard hats are the only way to shield yourself from serious, life-altering accidents or death on building sites. Workers must be aware of the different categories of hard hats out there, how to look for them, and the standards for using hard hats at the workplace.

Different Types of Hardhats

Understanding the different types of hard hats

Purpose of Hard Hats

When operating in environments where dropping objects could cause injuries to the head, hard hats are necessary. Besides, when operating near uncovered electrical cables that can come into contact with the head, hard hats are designed to mitigate electrical shock. Hard hats with miner’s lights, reflective stripes for night shifts, face masks for engineers, and modifications for visors or earplugs are examples of specialized hard hats.

Carrying a hard hat is a legal provision set out by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), which mandates that companies provide hard hats to employees and ensure that they are worn at all times. Even when the person is not in immediate danger, the environment in which he operates can be dangerous. In general, the hard hats were designed to protect employees from unexpected hazards when they don’t have enough time or room to get out of the way.

Uses of Hard Hats

You can’t wear a hard hat safely until you understand how it should look on your particular head size. The perfect fit for these kinds of headgear would allow for some breathing space between the reinforced shell and the inner suspension frame, allowing air to freely circulate into the area.

If you’re using a hard hat that doesn’t have such a large fit, you’re not really out of luck. Many variants can be customized to suit the head shape of the user. A sliding mechanism that allows the user to control the tightness at 1/8 inch increments is a common characteristic of many hard hats.

When it comes to fine-tuning the slide mechanism, look for a place where the hard hat feels comfortable but not too tight. Skin abrasions of some sort are an indication that you are not using your hard hat properly.

Types of Hard Hats

Hard hats are usually classified based on the basic impact and electrical efficiency requirements they are intended to achieve. There are 2 types of hard hats when referring to ANSI standards.

1. Type I Hard Hats

These hard hats shield the head from collapsing objects or other impact threats that could come from above. A Type I hard hat can protect you if you are in danger of being struck by a hammer, a brick, or some other hard thing falling from above.

Type I Hard Hats

2. Type II Hard Hats

These hard hats are designed to minimize the effect of the longitudinal impact caused by a blow to the side, top, or back of the head. This type of damage, for example, can occur as a result of a collision with a rough edge of a beam. The interior of Type II hard hats is coated with dense high-density material and suspension. This is required while working near moving machinery or materials that could cause a side impact.

Type I Hard Hats

Classes of Hard Hats

The electrical effectiveness of hard hats is classified into three groups according to ANSI standards: Class G or General, Class E or Electrical, and Class C or Conductive hard hats.

1. Class E (Electrical) Hard Hats

Hard hats classified as Class E or Electrical hard hats are designed to shield workers from high-voltage cables and have dielectric shielding up to 20,000 volts. This level of voltage protection, on the other hand, is exclusive to the head and does not represent the total amount of voltage protection provided to the user. Utility personnel who are often exposed to high voltage conditions are more likely to wear this class of hard hats.

Class E hard hats, which were formerly categorized with a “Class B” classification, can now be deemed to have a Class G (General) valuation, as their improved degree of voltage safety exceeds the (lower) requirements of the Glass G evaluation process.

Class E (Electrical) Hard Hats

2. Class G (General) Hard Hats

Hard hats in the Class G or General category are designed to shield workers from low-voltage transmission lines by providing dielectric coverage up to 2,200 volts. This level of voltage coverage is assigned to the head exclusively, as with Class E hard hats, and does not provide voltage safety to the worker as a whole. Iron staff who need a certain level of dielectric safety often wear Class G hard hats. The Class G hard hats, formerly known as “Class A,” are the most widely available hard hats.

Class G (General) Hard Hats

3. Class C (Conductive) Hard Hats

Class C or Conductive hard hats are distinct from their other variants in the way that they are not designed to shield against electrical transmission line contact. Class C hard hats can come with vented features that not only shield the wearer from impacts but provide improved breathability by conductive materials (like aluminum) or additional ventilation.

Class C (Conductive) Hard Hats


1. When Do I Need to Replace My Hard Hat?

If a hard hat indicates any symptoms of damage it should be replaced. Every time you use a hard hat, you must inspect it for damage and indications of fatigue. Aside from visual checks, another method of testing a hard hat is to hold it with your hands and use force by pressing the hat.

2. What Is the OSHA Standard for Hard Hats?

All workers employed in environments where there is a risk of head injuries from impact, dropping or flying materials, or electrical exposure and burns must wear safety helmets, according to OSHA guidelines.

3. How Can I Identify the Type and Class of My Hard Hat?

It’s essential to note that all ANSI-compliant hard hats have a certification sticker on the inner side of the hard hat case. This tag specifies the class and type of requirements that the hard hat was manufactured to meet. You should change your hard hat as quickly as possible if the sticker is misplaced or not readable.

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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