Did you know that most hard hat maufacturers EXPECT customers to throw out their hard hats after a specific time frame, regardless of the condition of the hat?
Hard hats are made of high density polyethylene (HDPE), a material that is extremely durable and wear-resistant, but a material that eventually breaks down. The protective properties of hard hats will be degraded by exposure to many common work environments, such as temperature extremes, chemical exposure, sunlight and normal daily wear and tear. It is not uncommon for outdoor workers in southern Arizona to replace their hard helmets after less than 6 months, due to the damaging UV effects of the sun’s rays. The hat can quickly become very soft and weak.
Also, these same concerns apply to the hat’s suspension – only more so! Most manufacturers recommend that a hard hat’s suspension be replaced every 12 months.
Most manufacturers post the “born-on” date of the hard hat under the brim/visor of the hat. It is normally a sun-dial type date code and the helmet’s service life normally starts when it is actually placed in service. I suggest using a marker to mark the start of the service life (you can put right inside the hat on the label).