LAS VEGAS — The late Edward W. Bullard, inventor of the hard hat is one of 22 innovative pioneers being inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) 2020 class of inductees.
In partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), NIHF will honour inductees in Washington, D.C. on May 6 and 7 at The Greatest Celebration of American Innovation.
Bullard, who was born in 1893 and died in 1963, invented the first commercially available industrial head protection device originally designed for miners.
“Bullard’s lightweight, non-conducting hard hat design was sturdy enough to withstand many falling objects,” states the NIHF website. “This invention has since become a mandatory piece of equipment for protecting millions of workers around the world.”
Part of the inductee Class of 2020, Bullard, a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley, served in the U.S. Army in France during WWI. He returned home to work at the E.D. Bullard Co. in San Francisco, founded in 1898 by his father Edward Dickinson Bullard, selling carbide lamps and mining equipment to gold and copper miners. Bullard designed a hard hat for miners inspired by the steel doughboy helmet he wore as a soldier after realizing the need for greater safety in mines.
“Bullard first produced the ‘Hard Boiled Hat’ by alternating layers of canvas and glue, then steaming the stiff canvas to make it temporarily pliable. Next, he glued together overlapping layers of the canvas to form the shell, covered the shell inside and out with water-resistant shellac and added leather front and rear brims,” the website states.
“It was used by workers on both the Hoover Dam and Golden Gate Bridge projects. Bullard went on to patent several improvements to his original design, including an adjustable suspension system that distributes the force of a blow.”
After the hard hat was introduced and adopted by many different industries, the company expanded and began manufacturing industrial safety equipment. Today, the company is still owned by the Bullard family and led by Bullard’s great-granddaughter.
The class of 2020 will be honoured at The Greatest Celebration of American Innovation, a two-day event in Washington, D.C. On May 6, there will be an Illumination Ceremony at the National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum at the USPTO Headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia, where new inductees will place their names on illuminated hexagons in the museum’s Gallery of Icons.
On May 7, the 48th Annual National Inventors Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., where the new inductee class will be honoured for its contributions.