Longshoreman’s Hardhat, about 1971

Longshoreman’s Hardhat, about 1971

Usage conditions apply
This faded yellow hardhat is made of plastic and includes a canvas chinstrap. A sticker depicting the logo of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) is affixed to the front and two additional stickers—black horizontal bars—are affixed to each side of the hat. The name “MILLS” is lettered by hand on the chinstrap.
Local 10 longshoreman Herb Mills wore this hardhat while loading and unloading ships at the Port of San Francisco, home of the ILWU. He credits the hardhat with saving him from serious injury in a 1979 accident when he was discharging mobile cranes from the hold of a ship. He wore the hat while working on the waterfront until about 1992.
Longshoremen are the laborers who load and unload cargo ships. Since 1937, longshore work on the West Coast of the United States has been performed by members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).
Longshoring is dangerous work and was one of the occupations covered in the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) of 1971. The Act's Longshoring Standard required employers to provide employees with protective hardhats to wear when working aboard vessels. The employers' group on the West Coast, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), implemented the program and began supplying longshoremen with yellow hardhats in 1972. The new policy was not readily embraced by all longshoremen, as noted in the PMA's 1973 Annual Report: "Although the West Coast has adopted a mandatory hard hat position, its enforcement is difficult. There is opposition to the requirement of wearing a hard hat in all environments of longshore operation." By 1977 the PMA was offering special awards to longshoremen who avoided head injuries by wearing their hardhats. The hardhat is now part of the longshoremen's occupational attire and is worn when working aboard vessels and in marine terminal jobs.
Object Name
Hard Hat
date made
ca 1971
used date
ca 1971-1992
Associated Place
United States: California, San Francisco
Physical Description
plastic (overall` material)
overall: 13 cm x 21 cm x 25 cm; 5 1/8 in x 8 1/4 in x 9 13/16 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Herb Mills
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
America on the Move
America On The Move
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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