Hard Hat Terms



Accessory Slots/Slotted Hard Hats- Many cap-style hard hats have a slot on the sides of which allows accessories such as ear muffs, faces shields, and other headgear.

Bump Caps-  This type of hats DO NOT protect against impact or blows to the top or side of the head, but do offer light protection.

Cap Style hard hatsThe design for cap style hardhats looks very similar to a baseball cap. They are characterized by a bill in the front. Most hard-hats use this cap style design.

Full Brim hard hats- This type of hard hat features a brim that wraps completely around the hat, which helps to cover the neck and ears from the sun and other elements.

Pin-lock suspension- Rather like a man's belt , this type of suspension attaches to the users head with a locking mechanism.. This is the most economical of the suspensions. All hard hats come with either this suspension or the ratchet suspension below.

Ratchet suspensionThis type of suspension has a quick ratchet adjusting knob. With a simple turn of the knob loosens or tightens the hard hat "on the go". While the pin lock suspension must be removed to be adjusted.

Staz-On SuspensionThis is the MSA's version of the pin-lock suspensions above

Fas-Trac SuspensionThis is the MSA's version of the ratchet suspension above.

Four point suspension/six point suspensionThis is the actual number of clips that mounts the cradle suspension to the shell of the hard hat.

V-Guard hard hatThe V-Guard is available in the MSA line of hard hats. Offering additional protection to the top of the hard hat with a large embossed "V" designed into the shell of the hat. Many other hats have a version of the "V-guard"

MSA- This is the name of the largest manufacturer of hard hats in the industry.

Polyethylene plasticThis is a hard plastic shell that most hard hats are designed with. Hard hats are also available in a fiberglass shell; however, it is a non-stock item and can take a little time to receive.

Z89.1-1997, Type 1, Class C,E,GThis is the ANSI stamp of approval that specifies the hard hat meets all safety requirements.

Type I Hard HatsThis type if hard hats are intended to reduce the force of impact resulting from a blow to the top of the head.

Type II Hard HatsYour Safety Management will determine in what locations in your workplace area, require the Type II hard hat protection, since this type is designed to provide protection against both side impact and blows to the top of the head.

ANSI Z87.1-1997 also changed the designations for the 3 electrical protection classes that apply to both Type I and Type II hard hats. Testing requirements remain the same.

Classifications under old and new standards:


Z89.1 - 1986
  (Old Standard)

Z89.1 - 1997
  (New Standard)


Test Voltage






2,200 Volts






20,000 Volts






Not Tested



Maintenance For Your Hard Hat

Cleaning your hard hat and suspensions:

The hard hats with or without logos can be cleaned with simple soap and water, or by using a damp towel. The plastic suspensions can be cleaned similarly; however, most modern suspensions some with a sweatband in the front or back of the hat. These sweatbands can be gently washed by hand, but they probably won't last as long as the hard hat. Several universal brow pads are available at an economical price.

Replace Your Hard Hat When:

  • Cracks appear in the shell.
  • Shiny surface appears dull or chalky.
  • Shell becomes brittle.

 Replace Your Suspension When:

  • The suspensions become brittle.
  • One or more of the mounts break off.
  • The suspension will no longer hold securely to the head.
  • The cradling straps break or become worn.


Be sure to inspect your hard hats before and after each use. There is no set service life for hard hats, so most manufacturers recommend replacement after no more than 5 years.