Carbon Fiber hard hat is a quintessential industrial or construction site accessory. It is protective equipment for safeguarding the head from injury due to falling objects, impact with other objects, debris, rain, and electric shock. Dockworkers used to drench their hats in tar and sundry them early years of the shipbuilding industry which were intended to protect from the constant danger of being hit on the head by objects dropped from ship decks. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulation 1910.135 stipulates that the employer shall ensure that each affected employee wears a protective helmet when working in areas where there is a potential for injury to the head from falling objects.
Nowadays, hard hats of different materials and designs are obtainable in the market. Carbon fiber is a highly engineered material that offers some distinct conveniences over other materials for hard hat construction. High stiffness, high tensile strength, low weight, high chemical resistance, high-temperature tolerance, and low thermal expansion are some of the attractive features of the carbon fiber. Hence, carbon fiber hard hats are capable of protecting the head in the high-risk workplace as it is structurally solid for offering higher protection without getting scratched, broken, or dented easily.
Advantages of Carbon Fiber Hard Hat
Common materials of choice for hard hats are aluminum, high-density polyethylene, fiberglass, or advanced engineering resin such as Ultem. A civilian hard hat has to be strong enough to protect the head from bumping and falling objects from high altitude. At the same time, the hat has to be lightweight and comfortable. Also, it has to endure elements like sun and rain to provide a satisfactory service life. Chemically inert and electrically insulative materials provide added protection.
Carbon fiber or graphite fiber is more expensive than fiberglass or plastic fiber because it requires extensive heat and chemical processes to produce carbon-rich yarn. Several thousands of carbon fibers are bundled together to form a tow which can be used individually or woven to form the fabric. When carbon fiber is perfused with plastic resin and then baked, the carbon-fiber-reinforced polymer is created and this is the constructing material of carbon fiber hard hat. The most prominent feature of this polymer is that it is ten times stronger and five times lighter than steel.
Hence, it is more capable than other hard hats preventing head injuries from high impact force. But it will not add extra weight over your head. So, despite being extravagant, carbon fiber hard hats are gaining market due to impeccable tensile strength and being lightweight at the same time.
Also, carbon fiber reinforced polymers don’t easily react with chemicals and are resistant to corrosion. It can withstand very high temperatures without getting damaged. The carbon fiber has a low thermal expansion and is resistant to fatigue. The carbon fiber is a rather durable material that has a much longer service life than its counterparts.
Types of Carbon Fiber Hard Hat
Based on the impact protection capabilities, carbon fiber hard hats can be classified into two types:
Type I hard hats are designed to provide protection against the impact force which is only directed downward from over the head. For example, a hammer or another heavy object falling from the shelf while you are passing underneath that shelf. Type I hat will reduce the force of such an impact to prevent injuries.
Type II hard hats are capable of protecting against impact force from multiple directions such as off-center, from the side, or to the top of the head. For instance, this type of hard hat will guard against collision force resulting from contact with the sharp corner of a side beam. Also, this hat is equipped with the suspension system and thick foam to absorb shock.
Classes of Carbon Fiber Hard Hat
The electrical classes of hard hats are determined by ANSI/ISEA Z89.1-2009 and Canadian CSA Z94.1-2005 standards. Based on the electric performance of carbon hard hats, they can be categorized into three types:
Class E (Electrical) Hard Hats are designed to offer dielectric strength up to 20,000 volts (phase to ground) and reduce the hazards of high electric voltages. However, this designation of the voltage label is only applicable to the head region. It is recommended for the utility workers working in the electrical plants and substations.
Class G (General) Hard Hats have a lower voltage rating, 2,200 volts, and commonly used by ironworkers who require a certain degree of protection against electrical potential.
Class C (Conductive) Hard Hats don’t offer any protection against electrical hazards. They are designed for comfort and they conduct heat and moisture which allows the user to use the hat in a hot environment. These hats have better ventilation and breathability and they will protect the user from impact forces only.
Key Considerations Before Buying A Carbon Fiber Hard Hat
Since hard hats are protective gear, some important factors must be considered to prevent occupational hazards which can even save the users’ life in extreme cases. Hard hats are designed differently for different purposes and the user has to be informed about the class and type of the hard hat. A carbon-fiber hard hat has to be selected based on the working environment and other factors.
Durable and lightweight : In order to absorb a significant amount of impact force without getting deformed or broken, the construction of the hard hat has to be extremely tough and durable. But it shouldn’t be bulky or heavy for the sake of the comfort of the user. For this reason, carbon fiber is a great candidate for hard hats since it is 10 times stronger and 5 times lighter than steel.
Suspension : Hard hats with suspension systems have enhanced capability to reduce collision forces. The suspension system provides a gap between the head and the body of the hard hat which helps to absorb impact and protect the spine and the head. Two types of suspension systems are employed: a ratchet system and a pin lock system. A ratchet suspension system is adjusted using a ratchet placed outside of the hat and the pin lock type suspension utilizes pins and holes.
Ventilation : To prevent overheating and comfort, breathable hard hats with good ventilation are suggested. Although both vented and non-vented hard hats are available in the market, a vented hard hat is essential for workers working outdoors who are exposed to elements. But a vented hard hat is not waterproof. So, the hard hat has to be chosen by considering the workplace environment.
Replaceable inner foam and pads : Thick and high-density foam pads and liners are used along with suspension systems to enhance the protection ability of the hard hat. If the inner liner is replaceable, a hard hat can be upgraded easily by removing the damaged liner if needed without buying a whole new hat. So, this feature of the hat will save money since the high-density foam pads and liners are supposed to wear and tear after long use while the posterior of the hat remains relatively undamaged.
ANSI Approved : American National Standards Institute (ANSI) provides the performance and testing requirements for the hard hats. An ANSI approved hard hat ensures the guaranteed performance of the hat under specified conditions. So, it is always advisable to check for ANSI approval of the hard hat.
Price : Hard hats are safety equipment and it is never recommended to purchase substandard safety gear just to save money. These headgears are not some fashion statements and they should be selected based on the workplace requirements. If the basic requirements are met, additional features can be sacrificed if the budget is a serious issue.
Apart from these basic features, there are some additional features that can be very handy. Some hard hats include high visibility strips, ear muffs, splash-proof face shield, and chin strap. These options will increase the utility of the headgear.
The Best 10 Carbon Fiber Hard Hat
Based on the performance and user reviews, some top quality carbon fiber hard hats are listed here. Given the nature of the hazardous industrial workplace, it is mandatory for workers to wear hard hats for protection. The listed items are comfortable and provide adequate protection against injuries.
DAX Carbon Fiber hard hat is manufactured by Texas America Safety Company in line with race-inspired technology. This hard hat is colored black with matte finishing and includes a hard hat tote to store it when not in use. This full brim carbon fiber hard hat is an ANSI Class C Type I hat. The handmade outer shell has two rim grips that keep the surface clean and provide extra grip when you are holding it.
The ratchet suspension system with a soft padded top is placed inside the hat to fit head sizes 7.0 to 8.0. With three straps located at each side, the 6-point ratchet suspension provides superior protection against blows coming from an off-center axis and even when the lateral side of the head comes in contact with something heavy.
This Lift Safety DAX cap style hard hat is black with a matte finish. It is suitable for various kinds of industrial workplaces. It’s quite an impressive hat designed for a site supervisor or inspector. To keep the surface clean, an additional rim grip is added on both sides of the front brim. The outer shell of the hat is handcrafted and hence the hat has a unique appearance. This shell is composed of carbon fiber reinforced resin to make the hat ultra-lightweight as well as super strong. Inside the hat, perforated Clarino synthetic leather provides ventilation and comfort.
Lift Safety DAX cap style hard hat incorporates a 6-point suspension system with an adjustable ratchet mechanism and a soft padded top. This mechanism is controlled with an oversized knob so that the user can adjust it without taking off the hand gloves. The hat will fit the head size 7.0 to 8.0 and with the suspension system, it weighs 415 g. It meets ANSI Z89.1-2014 standards, type I, Class C standards.
All the hard hats profess about being the carbon fiber hard hat are not authentic and sometimes fiberglass material is utilized to reduce cost. They use only one layer of carbon fiber on the outside for appearance only. CARBON FEATHER EVOLUTIONS hard hats feature 6 layers of true carbon fiber. This hat also utilizes aramid fiber along with carbon fiber to create hybrid material. This hat is molded using extreme pressure and heat to ensure the even and complete impregnation of the fibers and resin for a flawless bond between layers. The result is military-grade material which protects the user’s head from a collision.
Carbon-Aramid fiber hard hat features an 8 point suspension headband with 52-63 cm adjustable and locking (knob style) band. To prevent the hat from falling when bent over, it is designed to fit on the lower portion of the head. This hat is extremely lightweight which reduces neck strain and fatigue. It is ANSI/ISEA Z89.1-2014 TYPE 1 CLASS C compatible.
DAX 50 hard hats are known for their dazzling colors for high visibility. But like other carbon fiber hard hats from Lift Safety, the outer shell is made of carbon fiber reinforced resin for superior protection against impact force. The 6-point suspension system is very easy to adjust for proper fit due to the large control knob. Along with the suspension system, perforated clarino synthetic leather comfort dome with molded EVA foam insert is employed for additional shock absorbing. This foam has a microfiber liner that wicks away sweat and prevents overheating of the head.
Compatible with ANSI Z89.1-2014 requirements for Type 1, Class C, this hat has little protection against electrical protection and lateral forces. However, to reduce impact force from directly above, DAX 50 full brim hard hat incorporates a triple-reinforced crown for superior impact protection.
Lift Safety is a pioneering brand in personal protective equipment. DAX full brim carbon fiber hard hat is built with the technology inspired by racing. Like other models of Lift Safety hard hats, it is made of carbon fiber reinforced resin. The user will get superior protection from impact force. The hat utilizes an EVA foam insert and a 6-point ratchet suspension system to absorb shock. The perforated clarino synthetic leather comfort dome also absorbs shock and enhances comfort by allowing air circulation.
DAX full brim hard hat meets ANSI Z89. 1-2014 requirements for type 1, Class C standards. The outer shell of the hat is handcrafted and it will fit the size 7.0 to 7- ⅞. The size of the suspension can be adjusted via the ratchet system. The oversized knob of the ratchet can be operated with the gloves on. The suspension includes a soft padded top. The hard hat features a rim grip for extra grip and prevents the soiling of the outer surface.
The DAX 50 carbon fiber hard hat features high visibility colors such as yellow, orange, or white and cap style design. Lift Safety DAX 50 hard hat is compatible with ANSI Z89.1-2014 standards, type I, Class C standards. It utilizes carbon fiber reinforced resin. For the comfort of the user, EVA foam and Clarino leather are also utilized. These materials absorb shock to reduce the force of impact. The EVA foam is lined with microfiber to prevent the absorption of sweat.
This hat features a suspension system that can rotate 180° if needed. To do that, the suspension has to be removed and rotated. By doing so, the user can wear the DAX 50 hard hat in reverse. The hat weighs 420 g without the suspension system and 550 g with it.
Although ordinary hard hats are not very fashionable, the Cool full brim Pyramex hard hats are a bit exceptional as they adopt an advanced water immersion printing process that applies the design to the entire outer shell. Each Pyramex hard hat has unique printing and it won’t match another one. The dimensions of the hard hat are 31 cm x 27 cm x 15.2 cm. The shell thickness is 1.7 mm – 4 mm and the hat weighs 376 g.
The outer shell is made of high impact ABS thermoplastic. So, the hat is rather tough but lightweight. Cool full brim Pyramex hard hat is designed to be low profile for better balance with a rear padded suspension. The 4-point harness system comes with an easily reachable knob which helps to adjust the suspension from 6 1/2 to 8 and swinging hinge points allows the user to find the perfect spot on the back of the head to fit. The harness can be moved forward, backward, up or down and the vented pressure pads keep the straps in place and enhance comfort. The ratchet type suspension system is made of HDPE & high impact nylon. There are universal slots for accessories like cap-mounted earmuffs.
CJ Safety Full Brim full brim hard hat whose body dimension is 13 x 11 x 7 is available in Black color with a matte finish. CJ develops personal protective equipment like the vest, jacket, traffic safety cone, etc. for high-end users, and all the products are designed and tested for ANSI standard compatibility. The full brim design of the hat provides extra protection against nonchemical splashes, rain, and sunlight. With the fast track ratchet system, the size of the interior is adjustable.
CJ hard hat has vents for air circulation and hence it’s very breathable. It’s made of HDPE or high-density polyethylene material which is quite lightweight as well as strong. CJ Safety Full Brim full brim hard hat is compatible with ANSI Z89.1-2014 standards, type I, Class C requirements. So, it doesn’t have electrical insulation. The soft brow pad, headbands, and the suspension system inside are replaceable and washable. The hat weighs 512 g.
This cap style hard hat is made of ABS thermoplastic resin which is tough, durable, glossy, and electrically insulative. Also, this material is ultra-lightweight and makes the Pyramex Ridgeline hard hat 10% lighter than other hats made of conventional material. The low profile design with a low center of gravity ensures a natural, comfortable, and secure fit that sits lower on the crown of your head and covers more area than higher-profile sitting hard hats.
To adjust the harness of the Ridgeline hard hat forward, backward, up, or down, for customized and perfect fit, there is a 4-position harness system. For added comfort, the hat is fashioned with a rear padded suspension, padded fabric and polyurethane foam. The hat adopts the vented design and replaceable sweat band of the hat is easy to clean.
MSA 575407 hard hat is designed and tested for ANSI/ISEA Z89.1-2014 Type I (Class G) standards. It can withstand 2,200 volt of electrical potential and protect the user from getting electrocuted. Skullgard hard hats are applicable to radiant heat loads producing temperatures up to, but not exceeding, 350°F.
Fast-Trac III ratchet-style suspension can be adjusted to fit size from 6 1⁄2″ to 8″. The suspension system features flush rear lug attachments to eliminate pressure points. The back of the head is contoured by a ratchet comfort pad which prevents hair pulling and allows air circulation. The hat also features nylon height adjuster,headband, nape strap, high quality sweatband, and adjustable crown straps.
Are carbon fiber hard hats OHSA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) approved?
OHSA is an agency of the United states department of labor and its goal is to ensure safety in the industrial sectors. Every hard hat, including carbon fiber hard hats available in the market has to be OSHA approved.
Do carbon fiber hard hats expire?
According to OSHA guidelines, the suspension of the hard hats should be changed after two years and the entire hat has to be replaced after five years. But if crack, dent, or material fatigue is detected during regular inspection, the hard hat has to be replaced immediately.
What are Skullgard hard hats made of?
MSA Skullgard hard hats utilize polyresin as the construction material.
What are the best carbon fiber hard hats?
There are some tough competitors for this spot and the Carbon-Aramid Black-Blue carbon fiber hard hats standouts among them. It’s quite durable, super lightweight and it holds up during long hours.
What is the lightest hard hat on the market?
According to many users, Pyramex Ridgeline Matte Black Full Brim Hard Hat is the lightest headgear available in the market. The strong and lightweight ABS material of the hat provides weightless protection without losing its overall strength.
Carbon fiber hard hats are the front runner of modern safety equipment. Since you can’t always look above to find what’s falling over your head, a carbon hard hat is a great solution for preventing head injuries. Different electrical classes and types of carbon fiber hard hats are designed for tackling different issues and workplace environments.
Some hard hats are electrically insulated while others are conductive for removing heat from the interior. Hard hats without suspension systems are suggested for the work floor where just primary protection is adequate. But heavy industrial areas call for sturdy hard hats with foam lining and suspension system for maximum protection. So, choose your gear after meticulously examining these deciding factors.