A Quick Guide to ANSI Types and Classes of Hard Hats

worker holding a hard hat

In industries such as construction, manufacturing, and mining, hard hats are essential for protecting workers from falling objects and head injuries. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) sets standards for the design, testing, and performance of personal protective equipment, including hard hats. Understanding the ANSI classification system is crucial for selecting the appropriate hard hat for your job. ANSI has classified hard hats into two types (Type I and Type II) and three classes (Class G, Class E, and Class C) based on their protective properties.

This guide will provide a comprehensive overview of the ANSI types and classes of hard hats, as well as their respective color codes, how to choose the right hard hat for the job, and answers to frequently asked questions.

ANSI Types of Hard Hats

ANSI classifies hard hats into two types: Type 1 and Type 2. Each type is designed to provide specific levels of protection for workers, depending on the hazards present in their job environment. Below are brief explanations of each type and examples of occupations that require each type:

Type 1 Hard Hats

Type 1 hard hats are designed to provide protection from impacts to the top of the head. They have a brim that extends over the forehead, providing protection from falling objects and debris. These hard hats are commonly used in industries such as construction, forestry, and mining. Some examples of occupations that require Type 1 hard hats include construction workers, electricians, and welders.

Type 2 Hard Hats

Type 2 hard hats are designed to provide protection from both impacts to the top of the head and from impacts to the sides of the head. They have a larger brim that extends over the forehead and the sides of the head, providing additional protection from lateral impacts. These hard hats are commonly used in industries such as oil and gas, utilities, and transportation. Occupations that require Type 2 hard hats include tower climbers, heavy equipment operators, and those working in confined spaces.

It's important to note that not all jobs within the mentioned industries where each type of hard hat is used require the same level of protection. Employers should assess the specific hazards present in their workplace and determine the appropriate level of protection needed for their employees.

ANSI Classes of Hard Hats

In addition to the two types, ANSI also classifies hard hats into three classes: Class G, Class E, and Class C. Each class is designed to provide a different level of protection based on their intended use. Understanding these classifications is crucial in selecting the appropriate hard hat for a specific work environment. Here are the four classes of hard hats defined by ANSI:

Class G (General Hard Hats)

This class provides protection against impacts and penetration by falling objects and is suitable for most construction and industrial applications. They provide protection up to 2,200 volts of electrical current. This type of hard hat is suitable for construction workers, miners, and other workers in industrial settings.

Class E (Electrical Hard Hats)

This class is designed to protect workers from electrical hazards up to 20,000 volts. It provides impact and penetration protection, but with a higher level of electrical insulation than Class G hard hats. This type is used in electrical and utility work. This type of hard hat is essential for electricians, power line workers, and other professionals who work with high-voltage electrical systems.

Class C (Conductive Hard Hats)

This class does not provide electrical protection but is designed for use in environments where there are no electrical hazards. It provides only impact and penetration protection and is commonly used in manufacturing and construction sites where there is no risk of electrical contact. This type of hard hat is commonly used by welders, painters, and workers in areas without electrical hazards.

ANSI Hard Hat Color Codes

Hard Hat Color Codes play a crucial role in identifying the type of hard hat and its use. ANSI specifies the color codes for hard hats in its Z89.1-2014 standard. Here are some details about hard hat color codes:

  • White: Used for engineers, supervisors, and managers.
  • Yellow: Used for general laborers and earth-moving operators.
  • Green: Used for safety officers and new workers.
  • Red: Used for fire brigades and emergency responders.
  • Blue: Used for electricians, carpenters, and other technical operators.
  • Orange: Used for road workers and people working around moving equipment.
  • Brown: Used for welders and other workers involved in high-heat applications.

Exceptions to the Color Code System

Some companies may use a color code system that differs from the ANSI standard. These color codes are specific to the company or industry and are not standardized. Therefore, it is crucial to check the company policy or inquire about the color codes used in a particular industry before making assumptions based on the ANSI standard.

Choosing the Right Hard Hat for the Job

Choosing the Right Hard Hat for the Job is an important consideration to ensure proper protection from head injuries. Here are some key factors to keep in mind:

  • Type and class of hard hat required for the job
  • Work environment, including temperature and exposure to chemicals or UV rays
  • Comfort and fit of the hard hat
  • Durability and quality of materials used
  • Personal preferences, such as color or style

Tips for Properly Fitting and Adjusting a Hard Hat

  • Measure the circumference of your head to ensure a proper fit
  • Adjust the suspension system to make sure the hard hat sits comfortably and securely on your head
  • Use additional padding or accessories, such as sweatbands, to improve comfort and fit

Importance of Maintaining and Replacing Hard Hats

  • Inspect hard hats regularly for signs of wear and tear, such as cracks or dents
  • Replace hard hats if they have been subjected to impact or if they have reached their expiration date
  • Properly store and clean hard hats to ensure they remain in good condition

By taking these factors into consideration, individuals can choose the appropriate hard hat for the job and ensure maximum protection from head injuries.


1. Are all hard hats required to have a chin strap?
No, not all hard hats are required to have a chin strap. However, if a hard hat is designed to have a chin strap, it must be worn according to the manufacturer's instructions and OSHA regulations. The chin strap helps to ensure that the hard hat stays in place and provides maximum protection to the wearer.

2. How often should hard hats be replaced?
It is recommended that hard hats be replaced every five years from the date of manufacture, or sooner if they show signs of wear or damage. If a hard hat is subjected to a heavy blow, even if there is no visible damage, it should be replaced immediately.

3. Can I customize my hard hat with stickers or paint?
While it may be tempting to personalize your hard hat with stickers or paint, it is important to note that any modifications to the hard hat can affect its ability to protect you in the event of an impact. Additionally, some adhesives or paints may weaken the integrity of the hard hat's shell. If you need to identify your hard hat, it is best to use a label or tag that does not damage the hard hat or interfere with its performance.

The material provided in this article is for general information purposes only. It is not intended to replace professional/legal advice or substitute government regulations, industry standards, or other requirements specific to any business/activity. While we made sure to provide accurate and reliable information, we make no representation that the details or sources are up-to-date, complete or remain available. Readers should consult with an industrial safety expert, qualified professional, or attorney for any specific concerns and questions.


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Author: Herbert Post

Born in the Philadelphia area and raised in Houston by a family who was predominately employed in heavy manufacturing. Herb took a liking to factory processes and later safety compliance where he has spent the last 13 years facilitating best practices and teaching updated regulations. He is married with two children and a St Bernard named Jose. Herb is a self-described compliance geek. When he isn’t studying safety reports and regulatory interpretations he enjoys racquetball and watching his favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys.