Finally! Hard Hats Explained.

Construction companies have been using hard hats for ages. We all know they are there to protect against the impact of falling objects on a construction or mining site. But have you ever wondered why there is variation in shape and colour? Do they ever expire? One would assume that they make all hard hats with the same material and with the same safety specifications.

construction companies

In this article we will look at why there are differences and what they mean, and good practices for using them.

Standard round hard hats are most common on construction sites. Some interesting variations include fibreglass hats which can withstand heat, such as a fireman’s hard hat. These also have ear and neck protection shields.

The reason behind the colours

hard hat colours

Colour coding is used to help quickly identify where workers are on site and what part they each play. Although not enforced in South Africa, most construction companies will have a specific role for each colour. Here is a general guide for colour meanings.

You may have seen pink hardhats as well; we reserve those as penance for those who arrived at work and forgot theirs at home.

Wearing it right

As with any form of protective wear, if worn incorrectly, can reduce its effectiveness. Make sure the hard hat is your size and adjusted to fit snug. Also ensure that it is sitting straight on your head and not slanted in any direction. This ensures that should any form of impact happen, the hat will absorb the shock as it should, passing on minimal injury to its wearer.

When to replace your hard hat

You will need to replace your hard hat if:

  • It feels brittle or looks faded in colour. Plastics deteriorate if left in direct sunlight. Ensure that you store your hat in the shade.
  • There are any cracks in your hat.
  • If the internal harness breaks or becomes slack. Manufacturers line hard hats with an internal harness that balances out the weight of the hat and absorbs shock.
  • If the adjustment strap is damaged, and no longer keeps the hat securely on your head.


So now you know the differences and safety precautions for hard hats. Keep a look out the next time you pass by a construction site and see if you can identify who is at work.