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Hard Hat Standards
ANSI-Z89.1-1997 Standard Highlights

If you are a hard hat wearer, you should know a few things about the new ANSI Z89.1-1997 Standard for Industrial Protective Helmets:
The standard kind of hard hat you've worn for years is now called a Type I helmet, a helmet that provides protection for the top of your head.
Helmets that provide some degree of top and off-center protection are addressed in the new ANSI Z89.1-1997 Standard and are called Type II helmets.
Helmet wearers must decide whether or not the Type I (top impact) helmet you currently use meets your requirements, or if your work conditions warrant a Type II (top and lateral impact) helmet.
The Standard provides minimum performance requirements to reduce the forces of impact and penetration from falling objects, and where applicable, to provide protection from electrical shock hazards

Suggestion: Print this material for future reference.


Compare the New Performance Requirements for Type I and Type II Helmets to the Previous 1986 (ANSI) Standard
Requirement Test Criteria
1986 Edition
Test Criteria
1997 Edition
Impact energy attenuation
Measures helmet crown's capability to reduce the force of an impact from falling objects to the top of a wearer's head
Impact resistance
Product tested in the "as worn" position

8 lb. steel ball dropped at a free fall height of 5'

1000 lb. maximum transmitted peak force to head form

850 lb. maximum transmitted average force to head form

Tested at 0 F and 120 F
Force transmission
Helmet Types I & II
Product tested in the "as worn" position

8 lb. steel ball dropped at a free fall height of 5'

1000 lb. maximum transmitted peak force to head form

850 lb. maximum transmitted average force to head form

Tested at 0 F and 120 F

Apex penetration
Measures helmet crown's capability to resist penetration
Product tested within 3" circle on top of helmet in "as worn" position

1 lb. plumb bob, with 35 angle, dropped from a simulated free-fall height of 10'

Depth of penetration (perpendicular distance into thickness of shell)--Classes A & B: pierced not more than 3/8 inch --Class C: pierced not more than 7/16 inch
Helmet Types I & II
Definitions expanded; new test protocol section, including preparation, mounting, number, and sequence of test samples; summary of failure criteria.

Product tested within 3" circle on top of helmet in "as worn" position

2.2 lb. pointed steel penetrator, with 60 angle, dropped from a simulated free-fall height of 8'

Penetrator can't make contact with head form

Test apparatus includes electronic contact indicator, velocity indicator, & electronic recording equipment

No differentiation for helmet Classes

Electrical Insulation
Measures electrical shock resistance capability of helmet
Class B is tested for force transmission first, then tested at 20,000 volts for 3 minutes, with 9 milliamps maximum leakage; then tested at 30,000 volts, with no burn-through permitted.

Class A is tested at 2,200 volts for 1 minute, with 3 milliamps maximum current leakage.

Class C is not tested for electrical resistance
Helmet Types I & II
  1. Class E (Electrical) helmets intended to reduce the danger of exposure to high voltage electrical conductors, proof tested at 20,000 volts. Class E is tested for force transmission first, then tested at 20,000 volts for 3 minutes, with 9 milliamps maximum current leakage; then tested at 30,000 volts, with no burn-through permitted. (formerly Class B)
  2. Class G (General) helmets intended to reduce the danger of exposure to low voltage electrical conductors, proof tested at 2,200 volts.Class G is tested at 2,200 volts for 1 minute, with 3 milliamps max. leakage. (formerly Class A)
  3. Class C (Conductive) helmets not intended to provide protection from electrical conductors. Class C is not tested for electrical resistance. (no change in class designation)

Additional Information about the Lateral Protection Portion (Type II Helmets) of the New ANSI Z89.1 Standard
Requirement New 1997 Edition Test Criteria
Impact Energy Attenuation
Measures the energy-absorbing capability of a helmet from lateral impact
Type II (top & lateral impact)

Helmets intended to reduce the force of impact resulting from a blow received off-center or to the top of a wearer's head.
Minimum performance criteria:

A helmeted head form (11 lb.) is dropped onto two types of steel anvils, flat and hemispherical

150 maximum peak "G"

Off-Center Penetration
Measures lateral penetration resistance capability of a helmet; same procedure as apex penetration except for test location
Type II only Test protocol section, including preparation, mounting, number, sequence of test samples; summary of failure criteria Product tested in the "as worn" position

2.2 lb. pointed steel penetrator, dropped from a simulated free-fall height of 4' and impacted anywhere above the test line

Penetrator cannot make contact with head form

Chin Strap Retention
Measures the ability of a chin strap to retain a helmet on a wearer's head
Type II only

Note: standard does not mandate the requirement for a chin strap. However, if a chin strap is used, it must meet these requirements.
Product tested in the "as worn" position 22.2 lb. mass is attached to the chin strap and dropped from a height of 4" Strap cannot detach from the helmet or elongate more than 1" Strap cannot be less than 0.5" in width

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