In the 100 years since it's been invented, the design of the hard hat hasn't changed all that much. Edward W. Bullard, the inventor of the original hard hat, would recognize most of the features.
Here we'll look at Klein Tools' 60401 hard hat, a commonly-available model you can pick up at a big box store.
A benefit of using plastic, aside from its light weight, is that you can mold in attachment points. In the 60401, there are slots front and rear that will fit a (Klein) rechargeable headlamp.
Interestingly, Bullard had a model of hard hat that also featured a lighting mount. This one could hold one of the acetylene lights made by his family's company.
The slots on the side of the Klein are for attaching accessories like face shields and hearing protectors.
And where Bullard's design had grommeted holes for ventilation…
Image: The Clark County Museum in Henderson, Nev.
…this modern-day hat features vents. These vents are closeable, via little serrated sliders that are meant to be workable with gloves.
The biggest design improvement to the modern hard hat is the suspension system lined with foam padding, and the ratcheting knob mechanism that fits it to the wearer's head. Bullard's suspension system was leather and undoubtedly fussier to adjust, as well as less comfortable.
The Klein 60401 retails for $55, comparable to the $45 (in today's money) that Bullard's invention cost a century ago.
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