Haskell team members don their new WaveCel hard hats.

January 10, 2024

Haskell Drives Worker Safety with Revolutionary Hard Hat Technology

Learn how WaveCel's proprietary system reduces rotational forces of impacts to guard against traumatic brain injury and offer unparalleled protection.


As it continues to lead the way in construction industry safety, Haskell is equipping its entire craft workforce with the T2+ hard hat by WaveCel, a revolutionary technological advancement in head protection.

Rated Type II by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), WaveCel received TIME Magazine’s “The Best Inventions of 2020” award for its proprietary structure, which lines the hard hat and can absorb up to 73% more rotational force and offers up to a 98% lower predicted risk of concussion than a standard helmet.

The construction industry and Haskell recognized the need for additional protection, with some firms moving to alternate styles that resembled climbing or biking helmets. However, other than offering a chin strap, there was little difference on the inside. Roundtree continued to evaluate helmets and accumulate data, which led him to WaveCel.

“I read medical journals. I looked at the data that was out there. As I was going through that data, I came across WaveCel,” said Brian Roundtree, Haskell Sr. Director of Safety. “WaveCel offered the best product because they identified the need for stopping or preventing the rotational forces and put their WaveCel material inside their hard hat. They also had independent third-party testing data proving their product. Nobody else in the industry, that I could find, had that.”

Hard hat technology has been virtually unchanged for more than 50 years, and the ubiquitous ANSI Type I models are designed to reduce force because of an impact to the top of the head only. But most head injuries, and the majority of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), occur because of front, back and side impacts, and protection from those is required to be rated ANSI Type II.

A small company based in Wilsonville, Oregon, WaveCel was founded by Michael Bottlang, a German native with a PhD in Biomechanical Engineering, and Dr. Steve Madey, a board-certified hand and microvascular surgeon. Bottlang and Madey recognized the yawning need to counteract TBIs in construction.

TBIs are among the most severe and disruptive occupational injuries, as survivors can face long-term cognitive, psychological and emotional impairment. The construction industry accounts for 25% of all work-related TBIs. Falls are responsible for 68% of those while falling objects (top impact) cause only 12%.

They created the WaveCel mesh to prevent the rotational forces that occur during impact with the skull and brain, then built their helmet around that structure.

“What's also unique about the WaveCel is if you flex it, it forms naturally a dome,” Bottlang said. “So we can make a 360-degree dome around your head, giving you Type II level protection.”

The technology allows the T2+ helmets to depart from the norm in other ways, too.

  • They’re lower profile. Since WaveCel eliminates the need for a tall air space that traditional hard hats require to absorb impacts, the dome is about an inch, or 20%, lower than standard hard hats. That results in less head “bumping“ and “clipping” when working in tight spaces.
  • They’re lighter. Due to the lower dome, WaveCel hard hats are lighter and feel more stable for all-day comfort. Weight is further reduced by a variable-thickness shell design optimized to balance strength and weight.
  • They’re cooler. Unlike insulating impact foams, WaveCel is 93% porous, allowing air to circulate freely through 93% of the WaveCel dome.

Haskell will distribute more than 550 helmets through January and expects to extend them to contract partners in the coming months.

“As an industry leader, it's very, very important that we exhibit that and display that in a positive manner everywhere we go,” said Lance Simons, Vice President of Safety & Quality. “The best way to do that is through our most valuable asset, which is our workforce – putting them in the best protection, making sure they can return to their families every night the same way, making sure that they can enjoy a quality of life that we all get to share every day. That is what's at the essence of what Haskell safety values are all about.”

Haskell offers clients the assurance that their projects will be completed safely, on time, within budget and with the least possible risk exposure. Contact us to discuss your facilities needs.

Haskell delivers $2± billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,200 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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