Hard hat expiry date: How long are hard hats good for?

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Hard hat expiry date: How long are hard hats good for?

hard hat expiration

Do you know how long hard hats are good for? How do you decide to renew them? Do you just leave them in your storage closet until they expire and then replace them? Do you try to determine the expiry date for hard hats? You are on the right track.

Your daily activities require you to use several different types of safety equipment. These include eye protection, face shields, safety helmet, and earmuffs. This article will give you a brief overview of hard hat expiry dates and how to determine them with ease.

Table of Contents

What is a hard hat?

A hard hat is a type of safety helmet designed to protect the head from impact. It is usually made from a rigid material such as polystyrene or polycarbonate plastic and often has an integrated suspension to absorb shock. Hard hats are widely worn for industrial applications and activities where there is a danger of objects falling onto the head. They can be used by anyone working in areas with overhead hazards, such as construction sites, mining operations, work on scaffolding, and oil rig drilling platforms.

Hard hats protect the head from impact by absorbing the force of blows via their relatively soft inner layers, which distribute the force over a wider area than would be possible if it were a solid object. This reduces the risk of skull fracture or brain injury significantly.

pyramex safety helmet

Does a hard hat have an expiration date?

There is an expiration date on every hard hat (also known as a maximum lifespan). Hard hats can only be worn until this date, which was determined by the manufacturer.  

If you look at the label on your hard hat, you will notice that there are two numbers. The first number refers to the year that the manufacturer guarantees their product’s safety. The second number refers to the year that they recommend replacing the hat (even though it may still be safe).

These recommendations are based on the fact that after several years, the material used in constructing hard hats can become brittle and not as effective as they once were. It is important to note that this does not mean your hat will stop working immediately after passing its recommended replacement date, but it may not provide as much protection against falling objects as it did when it was new.

Where to find the hard hat expiry date?

The hard hat’s expiry date is usually found on the inside of the brim and is often stamped into a metal plate. If it’s not visible, try removing the suspension and looking for it there. If your hard hat does not have an expiry date, you should replace it.

If there is no label or if your hard hat was not manufactured within the last five years, it should be replaced immediately because it does not offer adequate protection from falling objects and could possibly fail during use.

How to check the hard hat expiry date?

Hard hats come with a standard five-year life expectancy. The expiry date of your hard hat can be checked in a few ways.  

First, look at the sticker located on the inside of the helmet. It will state the month and year when it was manufactured. If the month and year on this sticker do not match up with when you bought your helmet, then you need to replace it.

Second, if there is no sticker or other marking inside the helmet, then check the molding date on the outside of the shell itself — this is usually marked somewhere near where your head would rest. This molding date will be similar to an expiry date and should also be replaced after five years have passed since its manufacture date.

An arrow pointing to a number between 1–12 represents the produced month, while the centered number indicates the hard hat’s year of manufacture.  

In the image below, the number in the center reads 19, and the arrow points to 4. This indicates the hard hat was manufactured in April 2019.

hard hat expiry date

Finally, if neither of these methods works for you, then take your hard hat to an authorized safety supplier who can tell you when it was manufactured by looking at its serial number (this is often found on a label attached to one side of the shell).

How long is a hard hat good for?

Most hard hats have a five-year lifespan, but some can last longer. Look for an expiration date on the tag or on the side of the hat’s shell. If you can’t find one, check with your employer to see if they have specific guidelines for replacement.

Some companies require workers to replace their hard hats every year or two, while others allow employees to wear them as long as they’re not damaged and are in good condition. If your company has no hard hat replacement protocol, you should replace yours after five years or when you notice signs of wear and tear.

Hard hat manufacturers recommend replacing any helmet that’s been dropped on the floor or struck by heavy machineries such as a forklift or backhoe. A drop from waist height can cause enough damage to destroy an internal shock absorber or crack plastic components, compromising protection. You should also replace your helmet if it’s been exposed to high heat from welding equipment or other sources of extreme heat and flames (including steam).

What do hard hat standards say about hard hat expiration?

construction safety helmet with ventilation

The ANSI standard for hard hats, ANSI Z89.1-2009, has a section on testing and quality control that addresses the issue of expiration dates.

The standard says that a hard hat is not expired until it can be shown that it has failed in normal use or testing. This means that if you’ve got a hat with a visible expiration date, it’s not necessarily time to replace it.

The ASTM F1447 standard, which is used by the U.S. Department of Labor and other government entities, states that “it is recommended that the employer follow a policy of replacing hard hats at least once every 5 years or when the date code indicates the hat has been in use for 5 years or longer.”

EN397 is a European standard for head protection. The standard was published by CEN (European Committee for Standardization) in June 2014. It covers construction helmets, industrial headwear, and sports helmets.

EN397 specifies that a hard hat must be replaced after five years of use or one year of use in high-risk environments such as construction sites where there is a risk of falling objects like tools, debris, and other materials.

How often should hard hats be inspected?

Many people assume that their hard hats are safe to use until they are damaged or worn out. But the truth is that hard hats have a shelf life, and must be inspected on a regular basis to ensure they remain effective at protecting you from head injuries.

Failure to inspect your hard hat regularly can lead to serious injury or death in the event of a fall. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires employers to provide protective equipment for their employees, but it is up to you as an employee to ensure that your equipment is working properly and does not pose any risks to you.

OSHA regulations say that employers must provide their employees with protective equipment that is free from defects, but this does not mean that the employer will inspect it for you! You should check your hard hat at least once per week, if not more often depending on how much use it gets. This includes both replacement parts like visors and chinstraps as well as the shell itself.

How to extend the life of a hard hat?

safety helmet important

The following are some tips to extend the life of your hard hat:

1. Keep it clean and dry.

2. Avoid using solvents or harsh chemicals on your hard hat.

3. Do not drop or throw your hard hat on the floor, as that can cause dents and cracks in the shell.

4. Always replace your helmet if there is any visible damage, such as cracks or dents in the shell, a broken visor, or missing chin strap clips (these are actually required by OSHA).

5. Replace your helmet every five years, even if it doesn’t appear to have any visible damage.

When does a hard hat need to be replaced?

There are many factors that go into determining when to replace your hard hat. Generally, a hard hat should be replaced every five years or when it’s damaged beyond repair.

If you work in an industrial setting, the time between replacements may be more frequent. If you work on a construction site or anywhere with potential debris falling from above, the time between replacements should be shorter.

You should also consider your employer’s policy and your own preferences when replacing your hard hat. For example, if you prefer to have a clean, new-looking helmet while working and don’t mind spending the money on replacements more often than needed, then purchasing new ones every five years is fine. If you’re more concerned about the safety and want to make sure that all of your equipment is in good working order, then replacing them before they become unsafe would be wise.

In addition to these factors, there are some obvious signs that it may be time for a replacement:

  • The shell has cracked or split
  • The plastic insert has broken or come loose from its mountings
  • You’ve dropped it too many times; this can cause cracks or splits in the shell (especially if it hits something hard like cement)


With these facts in mind, you can see why it’s important to know when your hard hat is going to expire. If you know that the hat you have has its expiry date coming up soon, then you can be better prepared for the hard hat inspection by contacting a company that offers hard hat inspections.

Picture of Arlen Wang

Arlen Wang

Arlen wang is the author of Anbu safety, he is the manager and co-founder of the Anbu Safety network. He has been in anbu safety company since 2008, with a working knowledge of personal protective equipment, and several unique skills related to the PPE industry.

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