A hard (hat) goodbye: Wisconsin construction firm adopts new helmets to improve safety

The helmets manufactured by Milwaukee Tool and used by the Boldt Company are designed to stay on the head all day, even when switching tasks

Will Cummings, a journeyman ironworker and welding foreman at The Boldt Company, wears one of the new safety helmets.
Will Cummings, a journeyman ironworker and welding foreman at The Boldt Company, wears one of the new safety helmets. Photo courtesy of The Boldt Company

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates 31 percent of construction workers use personal protective equipment, two Wisconsin companies are hoping to grow the adoption of safety headgear.

Brookfield-based Milwaukee Tool and the Boldt Company, a construction firm based in Appleton, have teamed up on a line of helmets that aims to better suit the needs of laborers.

“We weren’t the first company that’s gone to helmets,” said Kristin Clements, Boldt’s safety operations manager. “There were several different manufacturers out there that had helmets, but they didn’t have a lot of accessories, especially when it came to welding.”

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Clements recently joined WPR’s “The Morning Show” along with Boldt journeyman ironworker and weld shop foreman Will Cummings to discuss the new helmets.

“The new safety helmets come with a chin strap, and that’s kind of a big deal,” Cummings said. “If you were to fall from a ladder, a traditional hard hat would fall off. But with the chin straps, the new helmet should stay attached.”

The helmets also feature a shock resistant foam lining and adjustable attachments that allow for switching work tasks without taking off the helmet.

“We have many different types of trades that do a lot of different scopes of work,” Clements said. “There’s a lot of things to take into consideration.”

Boldt hopes to keep its status of never having an employee sustain a traumatic brain injury on the job, Clements said. She consulted with Boldt’s employees throughout the helmet’s adoption to ensure everything was comfortable, convenient and more protective than previous hard hats, she said.

“That was really a big part of this journey — working with the employees, working with our project teams and finding out the struggles and the obstacles that they’re having,” Clements said.

The biggest challenge to overcome was figuring out how to easily switch out the attachments when changing tasks, such as moving from welding to grinding work, Cummings said.

“Kristen and her team did an excellent job working with us,” Cummings said. “We came up with a solution to all those problems.”

Finding the right manufacturer took a couple tries, Clements said. Boldt chose Milwaukee Tool because of its willingness to take and implement feedback into the design.

“If somebody were to have a fall, even if it were just from a ladder, our employees are much more protected,” Clements said. “We feel much more comfortable.”

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify the new helmets are designed and manufactured by Milwaukee Tool. Boldt Company workers are sharing feedback for current and future designs.

Related Stories