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What Kind of Hardhat Are You Wearing, Type 1 or Type 2?

For a few extra bucks, Alec Caldwell argues, you should be wearing Type 2.


There seems to be confusion on what type of hardhat everyone should wear on construction worksites. Hats are divided into two categories: Type 1 and Type 2.

Many wear Type 1 hardhats, and I believe this occurs based on it having the lowest price — normally around $15 apiece. This type of hardhat is designed to take impacts to the top of the head, like a hammer falling a short distance. It is not designed for side impacts.

Type 2 hard hats cost around $35 and up. They are intended to reduce the force of side impact resulting from a blow, or a blow to the top of the head.

Side impacts can come from sharp corners of I-beams, among other causes. This more expensive hardhat will protect you from an impact from an object falling from a greater height.

To most rational people, Type 2 hardhats make more sense. Wouldn’t you want your workers or sub-trades — or any site visitors of whatever type — to be wearing Type 2 hardhats? And you need a hardhat with full wrap-around insulation inside the shell of the hat.

Remember that the higher up from which that hammer falls, the greater force it hits someone with. Example: it takes a hammer one second to fall 16 feet. But that hammer will travel a further 48 feet in its additional second of freefall time. Meaning it picks up speed the higher height it falls from.

Impacts from items falling from greater heights, I say, need full insulation inside that hardhat, in order to reduce the amount of injury caused to the wearer of the hat.

Type 1 hardhats might not offer the full protection necessary to limit injury.

Here are my thoughts on the aftermath of an accident or fatality, like my falling-hammer example. The Ontario Ministry of Labour (MOL) investigators might conclude after investigation that the wearer should have used Type 2 and not Type 1.

The MOL could easily find fault with the employer under investigation of not fully protecting the safety of the worker (sub-trade or site visitor) who was involved in the accident or who died.

I believe we should all deliver this highest level of safety at all time. I wear a Type 2 (completely insulated inside) hardhat on all my construction visits.

What type do you and your workers (including sub trades) wear?

Alec Caldwell is the founder of the Canadian Association of Renovators and Home Services, a nonprofit organization for self-employed renovators and home services.