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NEWS > JULY 2019

How Often Should You Replace A Hard Hat?

hard hat

by Dennis J O’Rourke CSP

A hard hat is required in any work environment where exists the potential risk of head injury. At what point should your hard hat be replaced? Since there is no specific rule or standard as to when hard hats should be discarded for a new one, the wearer should make their own evaluation and determination themselves. This should be based on the work conditions, the job’s specific hard hat requirements, and the physical condition of the hard hat itself.

Job sites where there is more exposure to intense conditions, such as heat and sunlight, extreme cold, water pressure, or construction sites where there is much dust and grime, will subject their hard hats to more wear. Hats such as these will need to be replaced more often than the gear worn by workers who are inside and in cleaner, less rigorous conditions. Sun and heat exposure will dry out the plastic of the hat, causing it to crack. Some hard hats are rated based on how they withstand a certain number of volts of electrical charge. If cracked, they will not withstand as much charge. Hard hats that are visibly damaged should be discarded and replaced with a new one.

Labels and Paint

Proper consideration should be taken when decals and paint are applied to hard hats that have already been on the job. If stickers are applied, they may cover damaged areas and make them harder to detect. Certain types of paint can degrade the plastic quicker, especially if worn outside or often. Try to limit the amount of decals applied to the hard hat, and consult with the manufacturer of the hard hat before painting to assure it will not affect the integrity of the hard hat’s safety rating. When stickers are present, carefully inspect the entire hat to make sure it is free of any cracks.


Many manufacturers suggest replacing them every 5 years, despite if it appears to be safe. Replacement every 2 years is suggested for hard hats that are exposed to higher temperatures, extreme sunlight, harsh chemicals or other adverse conditions. Hard hats are typically made of two components, the outer shell and the inner suspension, so regular inspection of both these components is necessary to ensure compliance. If either part is damaged, the hard hat needs to be replaced.

Individual workers must keep careful watch of the condition of their hard hats since, ultimately, it is their safety on the line and their decision to opt for a new one. Visual inspections should be done on a daily basis. Hard hats are on the top of the list relating to job safety, yet, if damaged, they may fail to protect you. Sure, that hard hat has seen you through some memorable projects ... and that awesome sticker is one of your favorites ... but if in doubt about whether or not to replace it: don’t give it a second thought, just say “goodbye”. June is National Safety Month, but year round you should be thinking: Safety First!

For more information about The E.D. Bullard Company and all of their other protective gear products, please visit www.bullard.com.


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