Understanding the different types of hard hats

Har hats are designed to protect one of the most important parts of the human body. But did you know that there are different types and classes of hard hats. Make sure that you are using the right class of hard hat for the job.

The American National Standards Institute ANSI has put together a list to help ensure you have the right protection for the job.

ANSI Types of Hard Hats

According to ANSI Z89.1 all hard hats can be divided into two types. Type I and Type II.

  • Type I: Have a full brim around the entire hat. These are only mean to to protect workers from object blows that come from above and strike the top of the helmet.
  • Type II Have a short brim only in front. These hard hats are designed to offer protection from lateral blows and objects. This includes front and back, and side as well as top. These hard hats are also test for off-center penetration resistance and chin strap retention. Type II are the most commonly found hard hat in use.

ANSI Classes of Hard Hats

Hard Hats are also divided into classes to indicate how well they protect against shock.

  • Class E (Electrical) Can withstand up to 20,000 volts of electricity
  • Class G (General) Can withstand up to 2,200 colts of electricity
  • Class C (Conductive) These offer no protection from electric shock

Materials & Suspension

Most hard hats are made of non-conductive, high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and come equipped with a suspension that can be adjusted for a custom fit. Suspensions are available with 4, 6, or 8 load-bearing points and can be fitted using several different types of adjustments. The most common are pinlock, where the hard hat is removed and a pin is matched to a corresponding hole, and ratchet, which uses a knob to tighten or loosen the suspension’s fit around the head while wearing the hard hat.


When considering tasks and situations, hard hats are available in different styles. Cap hard hats have a short front brim that helps to shade the face from the sun and keeps rain away from the eyes. Some cap hard hats can also be worn backwards so the front brim is over the back of the neck. Full brim styles feature a brim that goes around the entire cap and shades the face, back of the neck, and ears. The full brim can also help to channel rain and snow away from the face and head.