If you work at a warehouse, construction site or factory, you likely understand the importance of personal protective equipment, including a hard hat. Not only do hard hats help prevent head injuries, but the Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires individuals to wear one if overhead hazards exist.

Your employer may not give you a hard hat, requiring you to invest in your own. Even if the company does provide one, though, you should investigate whether it is the right hat for your job. Hard hats have both type and class identifiers that describe their intended usage.

Type I hats

Type I hard hats protect workers from falling debris. As such, if you regularly work in a place where something may fall on your head from above, you likely want to wear this type of gear.

Type II hats

Type II hard hats protect workers from flying debris, helping deflect items that approach from the side. Type II helmets typically have a chin strap to hold them in place.

Class C hats

After picking the type of hat that is right for your job, you must also choose a hat class. Class C hats are conductive. As such, they provide no protection from electrical shock.

Class E hats

If you work around electricity, you should select a helmet that offers protection against a high-voltage discharge. For electrical workers, class E hats are standard. These hard hats can protect you from up to 20,000 volts of electricity.

Class G hats

Class G hard hats are similar to class E ones, but they do not provide the same level of voltage protection. Instead, class G helmets can only withstand electricity of up to 2,200 volts. These hats are usually ideal for nonelectrical workers who may occasionally work around electrical currents.

A concussion or another traumatic brain injury may stop you in your tracks. While you can likely pursue workers’ compensation benefits for your job-related head injury, you want to avoid one altogether. Ensuring you always wear the right hard hat for your job is the first step.