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Hard Hat Requirements

15 June, 2023


OSHA/ANSI Hardhat Requirements 

  • 68,000 injuries in 2020 required an absence from work  
  • 1,000 workers killed each year  
  • Only 16% of workers wore a hard hat during injury 

Hard hats are the best way to protect yourself from permanent, life-changing injuries or death around construction sites. Hard hats are a requirement for any area where injury from "impact, falling, flying objects, or electrical shock" is a risk. According to the CDC and OSHA: 

OSHA regulations mandate specific requirements for head protection in the workplace. These rules incorporate standards from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). OSHA provides the required regulations, and ANSI provides the means to follow those regulations. 


OSHA Standards 

OSHA has two standards that govern hard hat requirements: 

Employers must provide hard hats and ensure that employees wear protective coverings in the following situations: 

  • When there is risk of objects or debris falling from above When there is risk of employees striking their heads against fixed objects 
  • When there is risk of workers' heads contacting electrical hazards 

In all cases, hard hats must meet OSHA head protection requirements. 


When Does a Hard Hat Meet OSHA's Requirements? 

An OSHA-approved hard hat meets ANSI Z89.1. 29 CFR 1910.135(b)(1) and 29 CFR 1926.100(b)(1) state that head protection must meet the 1997, 2003, or 2009 editions of ANSI Z89.1, or be shown to offer equivalent or better protection. 

This standard defines: 

  • Types of hard hats and classes for specific hazardous situations 
  • Design and performance requirements for impact, penetration, and electrical shock 
  • Testing requirements to ensure OSHA compliance 


What Are the Different ANSI Hard Hat Categories? 

ANSI Z89.1 defines two types of hard hats and establishes three classes of hard hats based on the level of electrical hazard protection provided. 

Hard Hat Types:? 

The two types of hard hats are defined by the protected head area. 

  • Type I offers protection to the top of the head 
  • Type II offers protection to the top and sides of the head  

Hard Hat Classes:? 

The three classes are based on the level of protection they provide from electrical hazards. 

  • Class G (General) hard hats are rated for 2,200 volts 
  • Class E (Electrical) hard hats are rated for 20,000 volts 
  • Class C (Conductive) hard hats do not offer electrical protection 


Does My Hard Hat Meet ANSI Requirements? 

Each revision of the ANSI Z89.1 standard has specific labeling requirements for hard hats. To be an ANSI approved hard hat, the following information must be clearly marked inside: 

  • Manufacturer's name 
  • The hard hat conforms with, such as "ANSI Z89.1-2009" 
  • ANSI type (type I or II) and class designation (G, E or C) 
  • Size range for fitting 
  • Date of manufacture 


When Do I Need to Replace My Hard Hat? 

Hard hats must be replaced if they show signs of damage. It is essential to inspect hard hats for damage and signs of fatigue each time they are used. Another way to test a hard hat is to grasp it in two hands and apply force by squeezing the hat. If you hear creaking or other unusual sounds, it is time to replace the hard hat. 


While OSHA has no specific expiration provision, manufacturers can determine if their equipment expires on a specific calendar date. Replace the support strap yearly, and the hard hat every five years. Harsh chemicals and extreme temperatures can make a hard hat degrade more quickly. Be sure to check with the manufacturer for guidelines on hard hat replacement and maintenance. Regularly check OSHA standards for changes that may require your PPE to be updated. 


Can I Place Labels on My Hard Hat? 

While ANSI Z89.1 does not restrict the application of hard hat labels, OSHA standard 1910.132(a) requires that PPE be "maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition." 

In a Letter of Interpretation (October 27, 2009), OSHA explains that labels and paints may eliminate electrical resistance and can possibly "conceal defects, cracks, penetration, and any damage that would be otherwise readily identifiable."  Labels are acceptable if they do not adversely affect a hard hat's protective rating or make it more difficult to find potential defects and damage. 

Some beneficial uses of labels include placing these three identifiers on hard hats: 

  • Names
  • Titles
  • Certifications

Labels with names and titles can help identify workers in emergencies, and certifications can help identify when workers are authorized to be in specific areas. Labels should be used strategically to convey information when needed.  

Deploy Effective Hazard Communication 

DuraLabel offers a wide variety of hard hat warning signs, message tape, and reflective stick-ons to promote safety and visibility. It is important that your employees know where to wear their hard hats. Get help crafting a system that will provide the safety communication you need. Call 1-888-326-9244 and one of our experts will guide you through the process. 

DuraLabel's hard hat signs, tape, reflective stick-ons, can help adhere to OSHA guidelines and keep workers safe.