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Invention of Hard Hat Hits 100-Year Anniversary


Women got the vote. Prohibition began. The National Football League was founded. And, the construction and mining industries were forever changed by the invention of an often overlooked but significant worker safety advancement – the hard hat. And, while perhaps not considered a great technological invention now, at the time the invention of the hard hat revolutionized and galvanized the businesses and the people behind American industrial boom.

The hard hat comes from a Kentucky-based, family-owned company called Bullard, which was founded in 1898 in San Francisco by Edward Dickinson Bullard. The company originally supplied carbide lamps and other mining equipment to gold and copper miners in California, Nevada and Arizona. When Edward Dickinson Bullard’s son, E.W. Bullard returned from World War I, he combined his understanding of customer needs and his experience with his doughboy army helmet to design a protective headgear for miners.

Today, the hard hat is the most recognizable safety product worn by workers on industrial job sites around the world. “We are so proud to help workers go home safely at the end of the day, and we celebrate a century of manufacturing innovation in the industrial health and safety and emergency responder markets,” company CEO Wells Bullard said.

“We can all be proud of the role Bullard has played in revolutionizing the safety industry. We are poised to lead our safety markets with even greater advances as we continuously strive to solve the tough problems workers face,” she continued. “As we embark on a year-long celebration highlighting our innovations that have improved the quality of life for workers around the world, I want to say thank you for helping make Bullard an awesome company.”

The “Hard Boiled” Hat was introduced in 1919 and represented the first of many innovative designs over the past century that has led Bullard to its prominent position in head protection for industrial and emergency response applications.

“The original ‘Hard Boiled hat’ was manufactured out of steamed canvas, glue, a leather brim, and black paint. My great-grandfather built a suspension device into what became the worlds’ first, commercially available, industrial head-protection device,” Bullard explained. “We may take it for granted today, but we are proud to be celebrating 100 years of an innovation that truly helped our country grow and keep the hard-working women and men who built it safer.”

The company continued to innovate the hard hat through the decades.

“We have accomplished a lot together and have saved the lives of many during Bullard’s 121 years,” Bullard concluded. “Our ‘Hard Boiled Hat’ revolutionized safety. Our great tradition of protecting lives through innovative solutions fuels our commitment to Bullard’s future success.”