Latest News

Hard hat expiration and replacement

November 17, 2023

Hard hats are designed with high-quality, wear-resistant materials but do not last forever. The hard hat’s protective properties will degrade with exposure to many common work environments, such as extreme temperatures, chemical exposure, sunlight and normal daily wear.

It is important to read and carefully follow all of the instructions and warnings accompanying your hard hat. Failure to follow the instructions listed on your hard hat may result in serious injury or death. Always consult the manufacturer if you have questions concerning the care and use of your hard hat.

How long is a hard hat’s expiration period?

Depending on the make and model of the hard hat, the standard lifespan has generally been three years after manufacture, but this is not always the case. Now many manufacturers, such as JSP and 3M, give a five-year lifespan from the date of manufacture.

Don’t expect your hard hat to last that long. It might if it is barely used and stored in perfect conditions. Be aware you will often need to change your hard hat before it expires.

Even hard hats with a five-year expiration date are recommended to be replaced as soon as two years under heavy use.

How can I tell if the hard hat is reaching the end of its service life?

To ensure that a hard hat shell or suspension has not reached the end of its service life, visually inspect the shell for breakage, cracks, crazing, discoloration, chalky appearance or any other unusual condition.

Inspect the shell for brittleness by flexing the brim (do not compress the shell sides). These conditions can indicate a loss of impact, penetration, and/or electrical resistance. If you see any of these signs, replace your hard hat immediately.

Check the suspension for loss of flexibility. Also, look for cracks, breaks, frayed straps or damaged stitching. If any of these conditions exist, immediately replace your suspension.

These are recommended useful service life guidelines. Wear or damage noticed during a regular inspection may determine that an earlier replacement of the entire hard hat is necessary.
ALWAYS replace the hard hat after it has withstood impact or penetration.

Your hard hat has a date stamp

The number in the middle (13), in the picture to the left, is the year of manufacture, and the arrow points to the month (5). So, this hard hat was manufactured in May of 2013.

If you are an ROII participant and would like to receive my regular safety updates, including
ideas for safety topics, please contact ROII Safety Services Director Bob White at (360) 352-7800 ext. 109 or

Not an ROII member?
Visit to learn more.


* This article was originally published in the October 2023 issue of Building Insight magazine.

Return to blog