Women got the vote. Prohibition began. The National Football League was founded. And, the construction industry was forever changed by the invention of an often overlooked but significant worker safety advancement – the hard hat. And, while perhaps not considered a great technological invention now, at the time, the invention of the hard hat revolutionized and galvanized the businesses and the people behind the American industrial boom.
The hard hat comes from a Kentucky-based, family-owned company called Bullard, which was founded in 1898 in San Francisco by Edward Dickinson Bullard. The company originally supplied carbide lamps and other mining equipment to gold and copper miners in California, Nevada and Arizona. When Edward Dickinson Bullard’s son, E.W. Bullard returned from World War I, he combined his understanding of customer needs and his experience with his doughboy army helmet to design a protective headgear for miners.