Workplace safety is not just about having the proper equipment. It's about having the proper equipment working at its highest level. On a construction job, a hard hat is one of the most essential pieces of equipment you can have. However, hard hats don't always noticeably wear down the way many things do. But that doesn't mean it is protecting you at the highest level. So before you get back out on the job, be sure that your hard hat has yet to reach its expiration date.

Check the inside of your hard hat. Many of them will have an expiration date listed there. If there is just a code, the manufacturing company should be able to provide you with information on when the hat was produced.

Ask your supervisor when the hard hats were purchased. If it was more than 5 years ago, your hard hat needs to be replaced, no matter what condition it is in.

Replace the suspension inside the hat more often than you replace the outside shell. Some manufacturers give the suspension only a year before they expire.

Clean your hard hat on a regular basis. The cleaner the hat, the more noticeable damage will become. Once a hard hat has been damaged, it has reached its expiration date.

Speed up the expiration date if your hard hat has been exposed to extreme temperatures or harmful chemicals. The expiration date of the shell usually gets cut to 2 years in such cases.