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Head protection the focus of new OSHA Safety and Health Information Bulletin

Differences between safety helmets and hard hats

Posted December 1, 2023

In its first Safety and Health Information Bulletin (SHIB) in two years, OSHA presents information on head protection and describes the main differences between safety helmets and hard hats. The bulletin also provides instructions on how to properly inspect and store head protection.

While traditional hard hats have been the standard for head protection for many years, they only provide a basic level of protection. Safety helmets are designed to increase worker safety and reduce the risk of severe head trauma.

One of the key differences between traditional hard hats and safety helmets is their construction. Hard hats are made of hard plastics while safety helmets are made of a combination of lightweight composites, fiberglass, and advanced thermoplastics. These materials:

  • Enhance impact resistance,
  • Reduce the overall weight of the helmet,
  • Reduce neck strain, and
  • Improve comfort.

Additionally, safety helmets include extra features that address specific workplace risks, e.g., face shields, goggles, and built-in hearing protection.

Guidance on when to use safety helmets and proper inspection and storage procedures can be found at

This article was written by Carmen King of J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.

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