Why Do People Wear Hardhats at Construction Sites

A hard hat is a form of head protection commonly used by workers at industrial construction sites, which are often dangerous work zones. The helmet is intended to protect the head from an injury that can be obtained from falling objects, impact, water, debris, and electric shock. Hard hats are protective equipment, required by workers in construction and blue collar jobs.

In the early years of the building and construction industry, workers would plaster their hats with tar before setting them out to harden. Most early workers were employed by the shipbuilding industry, so a constant danger was being hit on the head by objects as they dropped from ship decks.

In the United States, a 20-year veteran of the industrial safety business, E.D. Bullard, required the workers of his company to wear leather protective hats. Bullard spearheaded the innovation of industrial safety after his son returned home from war with a steel helmet. In 1919, Bullard patented a “hard-boiled hat,” which he constructed of steamed canvas, glue, and black paint. That same year, Bullard was commissioned by the U.S. Navy to create a protective cap for shipyards, which kickstarted the widespread use of hard hats in the construction industry.

In 1913, employees working on the Hoover Dam project were mandated by Six Companies, Inc. to wear hard hats for protection. 20 years later, construction began on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and safety hats were required for all workers. Besides head protection for this project, Bullard developed a hard hat that would cover the worker’s face when sandblasting.

Throughout the years, hard hats transformed from leather to canvas to aluminum, fiberglass, and thermoplastics. Their purpose has remained the same in protecting construction workers from being injured by falling objects. Innovative solutions have developed materials in which hard hats protect the workers from other elements like precipitation, smaller debris, and electric shock. Today’s hard hats use suspension bands to distribute the weight of the helmet along with any falling object across the top of the head. The technology creates a full inch between the wearer’s head and the helmet’s shell, so if an object strikes the shell, the impact is less likely to directly affect the skull.

Hard hats are a protective measure that people in the residential and commercial construction industries have spent years developing. Its purpose is to make a dangerous job, less hazardous. Because the construction industry is so vast, keeping employees safe throughout is greatly important. Hard hats have proven to prevent head injury and further damage that would otherwise make construction workers vulnerable to injury or death.

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