Low vein mining hard hats are a classic style of hard hat that were popular up until the 1950s.
These days they are sought after more as vintage collector’s items than for actual use in mines.
But during the 1940s they offered mine workers head protection wear that was much smaller and lighter than the aluminum hard hats that were primarily used back then.
This streamlined design allowed miners to move and work more efficiently and comfortably in the often cramped conditions encountered within a mine. More importantly, it helped workers avoid disturbing the structural integrity of the mine by allowing them to better avoid bumping their heads against ceilings, walls, beams, equipment, and other important structures.
Furthermore, the major problem with aluminum hard hats was although they offered great impact and heat resistance, they were highly conductive, so users were highly susceptible to shock injuries when operating or working near equipment such as electrical trollies.
Low vein mining hard hats provided a solution to this problem as they were constructed out of fiberglass, which is non conductive but still offers exceptional heat resistance.
But they suffered one major flaw. That is, the fiberglass hard shells would often crack with a hard enough hit. So while the level of shock protection and maneuverability were greatly improved, the level of head protection was significantly reduced.
By the mid twentieth century, low vein fiberglass hard hats were made obsolete with the invention of hard hats featuring hard shells made out of thermoplastics such as polycarbonate, which offered a better combination of protection against impact, heat, and electricity. Meaning, it offered more impact resistance with slightly less heat and electrical resistance.
Not much has changed since the introduction of thermoplastic hard hats, as they are still the hard hats primarily used today.
But even today there are many customers who prefer the low profile and sleek design of the once popular low vein mining hard hat.
There are a few companies that design what are known as “cut down” hard hats, which are an attempt to replicate low veins hard hats by cutting down modern thermoplastic hard hats and reforming them to match the size, shape, and weight of a low vein hard hat.
Cut downs sell for around $100. Be warned, however, that these usually do not meet ANSI (American National Standards Institute) safety standards as the cut down process destroys the protective properties of the hard shell (it’s literally cut into smaller pieces, trimmed, put back together, and polished). For this reason, these are often considered to be memorabilia rather than legitimate protective wear.
At the time of this writing, the two ANSI compliant models that best resemble the design of low vein mining hard hats is the Low Pro Hard Hat or MSA Comfo Cap, and if you plan on using your purchase for actual field work, than we strongly recommend using either one of these rather than using a cut down. That way, you can be certain that you are not comprising your own safety.
If you want an original low vein hard hat, the best place to find them, to our knowledge is Ebay. Keep in mind, however, that these will be several years old and have significant wear. For safety reasons, it is generally recommended to get a new hard hat every 1-2 years, so these will be far past their certification date.
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