The Golden Gate Bridge construction site was the first site to be designated as a “hard hat area.” Courtesy of Bullard
Edward W. Bullard returned home after World War I with a metal helmet he had worn as an American infantryman, a.k.a. a doughboy, during combat and the spark of an idea for something that would revolutionize industrial safety: the hard hat.
Some of the earliest version of hard hats were makeshift headgear by workers in the shipbuilding industry. Similarly dock workers were at risk of being hit by objects that were dropped from the ships. They would take it upon themselves to create their own versions of hard hats, coating the top of their hats with tar and leaving them in the sun to dry and harden.
In mining, after the Industrial Revolution demanded more and more minerals, faster then ever before, leather hats became a narrow line of defense against an increasingly dangerous workplace.