Can You Drill Holes in a Hard Hat?

A hard hat is an essential for industrial workers. They provide protection for the head like no other object. Developed with strong materials that can withstand any blow these little hats are lifesavers for many.

As a person who has been in the construction field for over a decade now, I am very well aware of how these helmets can get quite irritating at times. The tight fit that these hats are can make you sweaty. Some think that this can be avoided by drilling holes in them. Is this really a good idea?

Drilling holes in a hard hat is not a viable option. This can lead to the lessening of the integrity of the helmet. As hard hats are constructed to give complete protection to the user’s head, drilling holes in them can compromise the safety offered in many ways.

Can You Drill Holes in a Hard Hat

Why does the need for drilling holes in a hard hat arise?

The hard hats cover almost 80% of the skull. A typical hard hat covers the forehead, the crown, the mid-scalp region, and the rear head. Hence, the coverage is pretty good making the head safe from any sort of accident that happens.

In addition to the coverage, the thickness of the body is also high. As the primary purpose is to prevent any hard blow to the head that can happen as a result of a heavy object falling from a height, or any likewise accident that can render a hard hit on the head, these helmets come pretty strong.

Due to these reasons, the helmets when placed on one’s head can be quite tight leaving no gap between the skull and the helmet. This constraint of space makes them uncomfortable for workers especially to be worn for a prolonged time.

A humid or hot atmosphere can make things worse as sweating under the helmet can be quite a nuisance. And this is when anyone might think about doing it- drilling holes in the helmet!

If there are holes or other mechanisms for proper air movement from inside the helmet to outside, then a majority of the vexing can be avoided. But drilling holes in a hard can only do harm more than good.

What happens when you drill holes in your hard hat?

When you drill holes in your hard hat, the integrity of the shell gets affected. Like any other object, the body of the hard hat can get affected when holes are punched in it. The shell can become fragile and would lose its strength to withstand any blow.

In case of an accident, the hard hat would not be able to hold out against it and can crumble easily leaving the head unprotected and susceptible to severe injury. And this goes the same for every type irrespective of the quality of the material used. 

Hence, drilling holes just for ventilation can cost you your life. Even then, people tend to do it often disregarding the safety requirements while working in risky areas like construction work.

Can I get ready-made vented hard hats?

Yes, you can get vented hard hats from the market. These hats need to have passed the standards set by OSHA or Occupational Safety and Health Administration like other non-vented hard hats.

Here is a pdf that explains the safety guidelines about hard hats:

https://ehs.oregonstate.edu/sites/ehs.oregonstate.edu/files/pdf/si/head_protection_si087.pdf

Vented hard hats come with breathable sweatbands and pads. They are constructed in a way that allows airflow keeping the head free from heat. Build-up o heat can be fully avoided. 

Since they are made to ensure the user’s comfort, adjustable vents are the main attraction of these comfort helmets. These vents give the user the luxury to close and open them according to the need. Depending upon the temperature outside, the user can decide his comfort level not compromising the protection for his head.

In addition to these features, some vented hard hats come with suspension systems. This will provide a good fit and better circulation.

The only drawback of vented hard hats is that they cannot offer protection against electric shock. Hence they are not recommended for workers who are involved in jobs involving electricity.

Best vented hard hats

I have gathered the list of the most popular 5 vented hard hats of the year:

1.) Klein Tools 60347 Hard Hat

The helmet is safe and stylish at the same time. Made with premium quality materials, the hard hat is strong and fits well. It also comes with a rechargeable light making it handy for dark areas.

Features:

      • Unique Suspension System
      • Machine washable sweatbands and pads
      • Rechargeable headlamp
      •  Accessory slots at the front and back
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

2.) Evolution Deluxe Full Brim Hard Hat

This hard hat gives priority to the user’s comfort. It is lightweight and super sturdy. Constructed in a way that prevents water and light from hitting the face of the user, the helmet is an all-rounder in terms of comfort.

Features:

      • Adjustable vents 
      • High-density polyethylene shell
      • Textile straps
      • 6 point suspension system
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

3.) Pyramex Ridgeline Full Brim Hard Hat

Made with ABS thermoplastic resin, this helmet is ultra-rigid providing exceptional safety for the user. As the material is lightweight the Pyramex Ridgeline Full Brim Hard Hat is one of the lightest hard hats available in the market.

Features:

        • Easily adjustable ratchet suspension
        • Replaceable soft brow pad
        • Convertible 4 point suspension system
        • Full brimmed
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

4.) Ergodyne – 60156 Vented Hard Hat

Known for its user-friendliness, the Ergodyne – 60156 Vented Hard Hat is quite a showstopper. It offers customized fitting with a good suspension system. It has a good grip that makes it better than its competitors.

Features:

      • Hard Hat Headlamp
      • Odor-resistant sweatband
      • Chin Strap 
      • Compact shell design for good visibility
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

5.) MSA 475407 Skullgard Full-Brim Hard Hat

This hard hat beats others in terms of looks. Built with a unique system that ensures nape adjustment facilities, the hat is quite sophisticated. Moreover, you can choose from a wide range of colors.

Features:

      • Multi-purpose cap strength
      • Fas Trac III-Suspension
      • Comfort pad
      • Phenolic shell
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

What are hard hats made of?

The first US labor hard hat was developed by the ED Bullard Company, a mining company in California. It was made of steamed canvas, black paint, and glue. Hence, they were not that ‘hard’.

It was later, with the development of new techniques that the conventional hard hats were produced. As the demand for these protective gears kept rising with time, the innovations and improvements on them made them stronger and better than their traditional counterparts.

Today, hard hats are made of High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) with Type II hard hats having an additional layer of Expanded Polystyrene for upping the safety even further. 

Some hard hats also come in heavy-duty fiberglass. These are used in steel industries. Aluminum hard hats were also available at one time.

However, they were discontinued by most of the helmet manufacturers due to the strict safety regulations. Yet they are not completely erased from the market. They are used in certain specific industries like heavy equipment operators, demolition industry, boat building, etc.

Methods to check the quality of a hard hat.

Now that you are aware of hard hats, let’s see some simple methods to check their quality.

1.) Field Test

A field test is one of the best ways to check the quality of a hard hat. Compressing the shell from the outside with fingers can help you assess its strength. A good quality non degraded hat would not budge to this. Rather, it will stay strong.

A temporary change in shape is acceptable in certain cases. When pressure is off, the helmet should come back to its normal form. If the quality is not good, then this will not happen, the helmet would stay in a deformed way.

2.) Checking the suspension

Suspension determines how well the hats stay on the head of the user. When you buy the helmet, try to see if the keys are falling rightly into the slots allotted for them. 

Also, this checking would want you to inspect the helmet closely for cracks or any other similar damage. Cracks or fissures can affect the capability of the hard hat to withstand the effects of blows.

3.) UV exposure check

Hard hats come in bright colors to alert others of the person’s presence in the field. As they are worn by workers who are involved in dangerous activities this role of the helmets is quite important. 

However, the color of the helmet tends to fade with time. This can lead to accidents that cost one’s life. 

Therefore, always keep an eye on the color of the helmet especially for the ones used for prolonged periods under the sun. The UV rays can have a significant effect on the shell. Monitoring the change and replacing the helmet at the right time should be the way to go!

4.) Additional checks

Irrespective of the specific checking that you do, remember to do a thorough general inspection as well. This should be done before assembling and each use.

The focus should be given to the shell and suspension. See whether you can find any gouges or dents anywhere on the shell.

Suspension can also be affected by use. So make sure that everything is in good condition before each use.

FAQs

Do hard hats come with set standards?

Hard hats are safety equipment worn by workers involved in tedious tasks like industry workers. Hence, they come in set standards and the production follow strict safety guidelines.

Some of the accepted standards are American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard for Head Protection, Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Industrial Protective Headwear among many others.

Do I have to replace my hard hat after a year of use?

You can replace the hard hat after a year if you find there are significant changes in its structure or degradation in the quality. Hard hats can last for years as they are made with durable material.

What all should I look for while buying a hard hat?

The main aspects that one needs to look for while buying a hard hat are the shell quality and suspension. 

Can I wear anything under my hard hat to make it comfortable?

You can wear hoods, skull caps, bandanas under your hard hat to make the fit more comfortable.

Conclusion

I hope you get a clear idea as to why you should not drill holes in a hard hat. Despite the structure getting affected, it can seriously impact the safety offered by the helmet.

So before doing anything rampant, think wisely and buy a vented hard hat made to serve the purpose!