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PROPERTY & CASUALTY
MAR 25, 2019
Ed Sowers, Risk Management Specialist
100 Years of Hard Hats
When World War I came to a close, E.W. Bullard returned to the United States with very few possessions but a steel helmet. Upon his arrival home, he presented this headwear to his father, the owner of E.D. Bullard Company, as an alternative to the leather safety hats they manufactured. From there, the modern hard hat was born.
Originally patented as the “Hard-Boiled Hat,” the protective headwear was made of steamed canvas, glue and black paint. The first official construction jobsite that required hard hats was the building of the Hoover Dam in 1931.
Since then, the hard hat has evolved tremendously.
Hard hats were first made of steel, then aluminum, fiberglass, thermoplastics and high-density polyethylene. Over the years, various additions have been made, such as face shields, light visors, earmuffs, mirrors, electric lamps, radios, cameras and more.
Safe from struck-by hazards
Regardless of the material, hard hats have always been designed as a way to protect against struck-by hazards. Struck-by hazards are considered one of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Fatal Four Hazards.
Hard hats are only effective at preventing struck-by injuries when they are worn at all times if overhead work is being completed by any contractors on site. They should be inspected for cracks, gouges, dents or other damage before each use. Damaged or worn out hard hats should be replaced immediately.
Remember, hard hats, like all other personal protective equipment, are the last line of defense on a jobsite. Preventative worker safety measures should always be used to proactively avoid injuries and loss.
Just like hard hats were revolutionary in 1919, wearables are a proactive way to protect workers today.
Some hard hats are now being fitted with wearable technology which can monitor heart rate, body temperature, and whether or not the wearer is actively moving. Amerisure’s current wearables pilot program tests wearable technology as a means to prevent injury from lifting, bending or twisting. The goal is the same — to reduce Workers’ Compensation claims, injuries and loss.
In the next 100 years, there are sure to be many more advances in personal protective equipment and other jobsite safety measures. What will remain the same, however, is the need for proactive safety measures. Jobsites that embrace a proactive safety culture will experience fewer business interruptions and protect their bottom line.