by Trevor Addison, MS, ATC

Hello there, safety-conscious readers and hard hat aficionados! Ready to embark on a journey that’s as protective as it is enlightening? Well, strap on your chin strap because we’re about to delve into the riveting world of hard hats and the serious safety they bring. From the days when “Hard-Boiled Hats” sounded like a quirky detective agency to the cutting-edge helmets that have us covered from every angle, let’s explore how these ingenious domes keep us working hard and playing it safe.

A Head Start To Safety

In 1919, inspired by the success of helmets during WWI, Edward Bullard embarked on a mission to protect civilian workers with a similar concept. The result? The birth of the “Hard-Boiled Hat” – a canvas and leather creation that laid the foundation for modern head protection. From mines to majestic dams, industries gradually embraced the hard hat revolution. In 1931, the Hoover Dam set the trend by becoming the first site to mandate hard hat usage, followed by the Golden Gate Bridge builders in 1933.

Head’s Up Helmet Evolution

While hard hats have been steadfast companions in numerous industries, they’re not invincible. They’ve historically been designed to shield against objects from above, leaving the sides and back vulnerable. They’re also prone to falling off the wearer’s head, especially during a fall.

Enter the safety helmet – a transformative evolution that takes cues from biking and climbing helmets. Equipped with chin straps, padded liners, and shock-absorbing structures, safety helmets provide comprehensive protection from all angles.

Despite the clear advantages that safety helmets bring to the table, widespread adoption faces a few hurdles. The most substantial challenge is the cost factor – they tend to be priced four to five times as much than traditional hard hats. However, it’s crucial to recognize that this upfront cost might be outweighed by the long-term benefits of enhanced protection and durability. Safety helmets also tend to have longer life than hard hats, contributing to their value.

Worker preference also plays a role in the adoption of safety helmets. There’s a certain level of familiarity with hard hats that comes from years of usage, and any deviation in fit, weight, or overall feel can deter workers from transitioning to safety helmets.

*photo credit – Wave Cel.

Turning Our Heads To The Future

As technology strides ahead, we can’t help but turn our attention to the horizon. One exciting development is the WaveCel helmet core. With its innovative design, this new approach to head protection holds the promise of enhanced safety.

Over time, both the cost and comfort aspects of safety helmets are likely to improve. As industries and workers become more accustomed to the benefits they offer, we might witness a shift towards wider acceptance of safety helmets as the new norm. It may only be a matter of time before the helmet becomes as widespread as Bullard’s “Hard-Boiled Hat.”

Trevor Addison, MS, ATC || Trevor is a Certified Athletic Trainer who has been practicing since 2015, transitioning from athletics to the industrial setting in 2019. As an avid outdoorsman and craft beer lover, if he’s not in the clinic, you’ll find him on a trail, slope, or at a local brewery!

Be sure to check out our other blogs for further injury prevention education and tips for the industrial athlete from Work Right NW!