Since January 2017, Build UK, who represents some of the UK's biggest contractors and trade associations, has mandated hard hat colour codes.

Excepting Network Rail workers, whose sites only permit white and blue safety helmets, all other construction sites - new and existing - will be expected to change their helmet colours according to the wearer's site role.

Why were the colour codes changed for hard hats on sites?

The colour coding system was released in April 2016, and is designed to identify workers by their safety qualifications. Each different colour hard hat has a different meaning, and it's important we take note.

The system is intended to reduce on-site dangers by making it easier to note the experience and expertise of each person on a construction site. Those trained in first aid, and fire marshals will wear stickers on their helmets for easy identification.

What do the new hard hat colours mean?

The new hard hat colour codes are:-

Black: Supervisors

Orange: Slinger / Signaller

White: Site Manager / Vehicle Marshall / Competent Operative

Blue: Inexperienced Person / Architect / Visitor / Apprentice

Green First Aid + Sticker: First Aid Professional

Red Fire Marshal + Sticker: Fire Marshal


White Hard Hat

White: Site Manager/ Competent Operative/ Marshall

To confirm, these standards and the new colour coding will be industry recognised, so - wherever you are in Great Britain - you’ll know who does what and who is qualified in various safety measures.

That means no more green and yellow hard hats on the highway.

Orange Hard Hat Symbolises

If you're on site and you need a ton of bricks shifting, or a joist lifting into place, you need to look for an orange hard hat. These personnel will be the ones trained, qualified and authorised to sling the weights to be lifted. Slinging isn't an easy job and requires skill and training to ensure weights are evenly distributed to ensure a safe lift.

The crane operators will need hand signals to know when it's safe to lift too. These have to be precise and conspicuous, so this is another trained skill the orange tops have. Orange hats will likely have other skills. They could be a brickie, a joiner, and electrician or pretty much any construction trade. The orange simply signifies that the wearer is also trained to sling and signal.

Black Hard Hat Symbolises

If you see a black hard hat wandering around the construction site, you can be sure that's some sort of supervisor or foreman.

Any problems you need help with, the black tops are the people you go to.

They'll also be the ones calling you out if you're slacking!

Blue Hard Hat Symbolises

This colour is reserved for those who shouldn't be unsupervised on a building site. Apprentices will be wearing a blue hard hat, as will any visitor to the site.

Health & Safety is everyone's responsibility. If you see a blue hat working alone or wandering around unsupervised, you should look for a black hat and let them know.

White Hard Hat Symbolises

These hard hats have multiple uses. The site manager will be wearing a white hard hat on the construction site to signify that he's in charge.

But then, anyone who is skilled in their trade and classed as a "competent operative" would be wearing a white hard hat too. That clash between those who do the work and those who create the work may confuse, but it's likely the site manager will be wearing a suit and not grafter's workwear.

A vehicle marshal will be wearing white too, but there's a very good chance they'll be wearing Class 3 hi-vis (at least should be) which would be marked on the back as a marshal.

Green Hard Hat Symbolises

There's not a tradesman in history who hasn't skinned a knuckle, cut their finger or taken a knock to the head. When those incidents happen (and they do happen) and somebody is hurt, it is a first aider you look for. By looking for a green hard hat you will find the first aider more easily and quickly.

As with the red tops, green tops will likely have a first aid sticker on their helmet that comes with the job.

Red Hard Hat Symbolises


When the alarm goes and everyone exits in a safe and orderly manner, it will be a red hard hat directing you. You do as they say if you want to stay alive. This is an important position that requires extensive training and responsibility. There will likely be a sticker on their hat that signifies they are a fire marshal, but not every time.

And remember for all your safety wear look no further than the exports at PPE Stores. Call us today on 0115 952 3096 or email

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