Western Hard Hats Molded in 'Cowboy Colors' from Teknor Color Protect Workers from UV Exposure and Impact Injuries

Aug 31, 1999

BAKERSFIELD, CA, August 31, 1999: Now workers on hard-hat sites can have a touch of cowboy style and still meet safety codes. Western Outlaw (trademark) safety headgear looks just like a wide-brim Stetson hat yet complies with ANSI standards for protection from head injury, according to Western Hardhat, Inc., Bakersfield, CA. Its shell is injection molded by American Allsafe Company, Tonawanda, NY, in white, black, gray, and straw colors as well as the less cowboy-like safety orange and safety yellow.

"Unlike standard-issue hard hats, our broad-brim product provides UV protection for the worker's face, ears, and neck," said Bret Atkins, who invented the hat and is President of Western Hardhat, Inc.

Providing UV resistance for the hat itself was another issue, since prolonged exposure to UV degrades the physical properties of unmodified plastics, including their resistance to impact. "We wanted to ensure the structural integrity of the product over its entire design life," said Dharmendra Vahalia, Product Development Engineer at American Allsafe.

The company asked Teknor Color Company to provide color concentrates incorporating the required levels of UV-resistance. "Drawing on years of experience, Teknor Color promptly provided package formulations that combine color and UV stabilizer and are custom-matched to our application requirements," Vahalia said.

"Whoever said a hard hat has to be ugly?" said Julie Atkins, who manages Western Hardhat with her husband Bret. "This is the first time in 40 years that there has been any change in the shape of a hard hat, the first time there has been any style."

Style actually enhances safety, she pointed out. "Contractors tell us that with our Western Outlaw hats they have a lot less trouble enforcing requirements for head protection. And because workers really like our hats, they take good care of them, whereas they may misplace or misuse standard-issue headgear."

The first Western Outlaw hats were thermoformed but, as sales increased, Western Hardhat turned to American Allsafe, which adapted the design for injection molding. "Besides achieving higher volumes, injection molding eliminated the thinning out of deep-drawn portions that can occur in thermoforming," Vahalia said. "To alleviate stress concentrations around the gate, which is located close to the area of impact, we strategically moved it to the inside of the helmet shell rather than outside on the top."

Each shell is a one-piece molding that consists of slightly more than a pound of high-density polyethylene, along with 0.021 lb. of color concentrate from Teknor Color. After molding the shell, American Allsafe assembles the suspension system inside.

The hats have passed conformance tests required for compliance with American National Standards Institute specifications for protective headwear for industrial workers (ANSI Z89.1-1997), according to Tom Goergen, American Allsafe's Operations Manager. "To our knowledge, this is the first hat of this type to be code-body certified," Goergen said.

American Allsafe specializes in manufacturing personnel-protection devices. In addition to hard hats, these include safety glasses and goggles, sweat bands, hearing protection, and rebar caps. Teknor Color supplies color concentrates for a number of these products, according to Teknor Color Sales Representative Nancy Server.

"Our color specialists draw on extensive formulating experience and industry knowledge to create weatherable colors that are resistant to change," Server said. "A close working relationship with our suppliers enables Teknor Color to take into account all of the factors involved in an application, including resin grade, part thickness, end-use conditions, expected use life, and many others, and still provide a rapid color match for any outdoor application."

"Safety" colors, typically specified by code bodies, are a longtime specialty at Teknor Color, Server noted. "We supply color concentrates for a wide range of safety applications, ranging from traffic cones to hazmat boots to vests and raincoats for emergency crews."

American Allsafe Co. is located at 99 Wales Ave., Tonawanda, NY 14150. Tel: 716-695-8300. Fax: 716-693-4589.

Western Hardhat, Inc. is located at 3420 Buck Owens Blvd., Bakersfield, CA 93308. Tel: 800-660-4303 or 661-864-1009. Fax: 661-326-0957. E-mail: www.westernhardhat.com