When were the first hard hats manufactured? How has the design changed through the years? Who manufactures the six million “skull buckets” sold each year to protect workers’ heads?
The hard hat concept comes from Bullard, a hundred-year-old, family-owned manufacturer of personal protective equipment, specializing in industrial head protection, including hard hats, firefighter head protection and continuous flow as well as powered air purifying respiratory protection.
History of the Hard Hat
A hundred years ago, the hard hat didn’t exist. And fifty years ago, head protection wasn’t widely required for workers. But, thanks to advances in safety, the hard hat has evolved over the decades.
Established in San Francisco in 1898, Bullard sold carbide lamps and mining equipment to gold and copper miners. “The miners used to wear a soft derby, similar to a baseball cap. It had a small, hard-leather and shellac brim,” said Edward D. “Jed” Bullard, Chairman of the Board and former President and CEO.
In 1915, Bullard began work on a helmet that could protect miners from falling objects. He based it on the doughboy, a helmet he’d worn as a soldier in World War I. The ‘Hard Boiled® Hat’, patented in 1919, was so called because of the steam used in the manufacturing process,” said Bullard.
“The original ‘Hard Boiled® hat’ was manufactured out of steamed canvas, glue, a leather brim, and black paint. My grandfather built a suspension device into what became the worlds’ first, commercially available, industrial head-protection device.”