Posted by brandoniswrite on December 26, 2011
Rumor has it that the first hard hats, or safety helmet, designed for use outside the military was designed in 1912 by the German novelist, Franz Kafka (1883-1924) when he was employed by an insurance institute in Bavaria. The helmet is used to protect construction workers and others from head injury. The first safety helmet to have a patent was constructed of steamed canvas, black paint and glue.
Hard Hats Emerge
It was not long after the introduction of the safety helmet that they became compulsory on construction sites. The first site was the Hoover Dam project in 1931 and the second was the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge on the western seaboard of the United States. Now the safety clothing and equipment are mandatory on all building sites by workers and visitors alike.
ED Bullard designed the earliest safety helmets. His first efforts were made of leather in 1898. Aluminum was the material of choice by the late 1930s,apart from electrical use. By the 1940s, fiberglass was mostly used. From the 1950s, thermoplastics came to dominate because they could be molded cheaply and easily by the use of applied heat. Modern safety helmets are constructed of either high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or advanced engineering resins, including polyetherimide (PEI).
Physics of Hard Hats
Modern safety helmets have a built-in suspension system that incorporates a cushion of air between the wearer’s head and the top of the helmet. The suspension spreads the weight of the hat over the entire surface of the head and the cushion of air provides additional protection against impact with hard surfaces or falling objects. Cap-style helmets, with a baseball-style peak, have a rim around the edge that directs water towards the front of the cap and not down the back of the wearer’s neck.
Different styles of hat provide different types of comfort and protection. And, with so many different colors to choose from, the safety helmet doubles as a fashion statement. The smooth dome slotted cap, for example, protects the wearer from small falling objects like bits of plaster from a ceiling. It is also suitable for working around electricity because of its dielectric properties.
The V-guard design provides extra toughness at the top of the head. This model also comes in a choice of suspension systems as well as a number of different colors. Women’s and children’s sizes are available, although there is a more limited choice of color. Some models have a peak at the front while others have a rim that runs around the entire circumference of the hat. Some versions glow in the dark for nighttime use. Even cowboys are catered for,with a Stetson-shaped hat for wranglers who are serious about safety but who have an image to protect.
There are a number of different types of attachment that can be fitted to safety helmets. Jackhammer operators often attach ear protection, while welders use a safety visor to keep sparks out of their eyes. Face shields are often used to protect the face from being hit by object in the front of the head, as well as the back. Cameras, radios and pagers may also be attached to help the wearer communicate with the outside world.
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