US highway and road construction costs will reach 98 billion US dollars by 2021. With this many projects, now is the time to make sure your team’s high visibility clothing meets industry standards.
Has it been several years before your last assessment or are you ready for an updated hi vis rain jacket? Either way, you need to make sure that you’re aware of hi vis clothing standards so that your team is safe.
Are you familiar with the High-Visibility Safety Apparel and Accessories Standard? This regulation will update you on safety specs for your team’s safety clothing. Read on to learn about what really matters for hi vis apparel and how to choose the safest option for your workers.
Do Your Workers Need Hi Vis Apparel?
To most people who drive past highway workers, the safety vests they see look similar. The untrained eye only notices a bright color or a strip of silver. In reality, these safety garments are actually more complex than you think.
Work safety goes beyond operating techniques or fall-arrest systems. Visibility is a high safety concern in any job that uses moving machinery. This includes jobs like highway repair, construction, or warehouse positions.
Any job where you work with (or around) machines or vehicles puts you at risk if you can’t be seen. This is why wearing safety clothing is important. If you aren’t visible, you aren’t protected.
Road workers are at a higher risk of injury because they have to protect themselves from the machines they use. They also need protection from vehicles driven by the general public. From 2011 to 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded over 600 fatal road work injuries.
Don’t think that all brightly-colored clothing is the same. Regulation-approved hi vis clothing will fit specific criteria. If your business isn’t following today’s hi vis safety standard, then your workers may not be as safe as you think.
Hi Vis Clothing Standards Today
Most workers will know about Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the workplace, like gloves and masks. But not all will know about the US Federal regulations for high-visibility clothing.
The US government passed the first hi vis regulation in November of 2008. Today, we have the American National Standard for High Visibility Safety Apparel and Accessories (ANSI/ISEA 107-2015).
This national standard was established by the American National Standards Institute, Inc. (ANSI) and the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA). Thanks to its regulations, workers across the nation are better protected from fatal accidents.
Understand Regulations: ANSI/ISEA 107-2015
The ANSI/ISEA 107-2015 provides standards and guidelines for choosing high visibility safety clothing. This type of clothing includes hi vis shirts, jackets, pants, vests, headwear, and outerwear.
Wearing regulated safety clothing improves worker visibility at night, in low-light conditions, and poor weather. The ANSI/ISEA 107-2015 focuses on:
1. Clothing design that meets needs for functionality, durability, comfort, and other work hazards.
2. Clothing that meets the requirements for background and combined-performance retro-reflective materials.
3. Clothing that meets photometric and physical performance requirements for retroreflective materials.
4. Proper care labeling for Types and Classes of safety clothing
As an employer, you need to consider more than the color of a hi vis garment. Garments must have a minimum amount of ANSI-compliant fluorescent material. They must also have specific amounts of retroreflective material that is ANSI-compliant.
Types and Performance Classes
There are three different Garment Types and five Performance Classes within those Types. As you choose the best hi vis clothing for your team, consider how these different Types fit their needs.
Off-Road (Type O)
Type O features one Performance Class (Class 1). It’s for off-road use by workers in controlled work environments.
You might consider this Type if you own a grocery store and have workers collecting shopping carts in the parking lot. This Type is also a good option for warehouse or factory workers.
Roadway (Type R)
Type R features Performance Class 2 and Class 3. It’s specifically for workers on roadways or even airports. Type R safety clothing has more fluorescent background material and retroreflective strips. It’s the best option for work environments with high levels of moving vehicles.
If you have workers in the right-of-way of a roadway, this Type of safety garment is required by Federal law. Class 2 garments benefit road construction workers or airport ramp workers. Class 3 garments benefit flaggers and DOT workers in high-speed traffic environments. If in doubt, go Class 3.
Public Safety (Type P)
Type P also features Performance Class 2 and Class 3. However, Class 3 garments for this Type need extra background and retroreflective material. This is the Type to choose if you’re outfitting first responders like fire, police, and EMS.
Remember, the higher the Class, the more background and retroreflective material it needs. Keep this rule in mind when evaluating which garments to choose.
Safety Clothing Tips
In 2016, nearly 20% of workplace deaths were in the construction industry. An average of 13 deaths occurs on the job each day.
Government regulations and work zone rules continue to help reduce the number of workplace accidents each year. But it still requires employers to choose the best hi vis apparel to protect their workers. Here are some safety tips that you need to know before you select your safety clothing.
These tips will apply to your team whether they’re nighttime roadside crew or volunteer crossing guards. If your employees need hi vis garments, then you need to know these safety tips.
The way your garments fit your workers is important to their workplace safety. The retroreflective strips on safety clothing are designed to outline the human form. When a vest or jacket is too big, then the garment isn’t protecting the wearer.
The primary goal is for a hi vis garment to alert drivers and other workers to steer clear. If a vest’s reflective strips don’t look like a human or don’t properly reflect light, drivers may not stop.
Also, loose material can get snagged in dangerous machinery. If you’re not sure what protocols to follow in selecting a small hi vis garment, check the ANSI/ISEA 107-2015. Its updated regulations give specifics for hi vis garments that fit smaller sizes.
Lighting Is Important
A vital element to hi vis clothing is a source of light that reflects off the retroreflective panels. When you don’t have this light, workers won’t be seen as easily. This is why the background material of hi vis garments are as important as the reflective panels.
You need to make sure that the retroreflective panels have a 360-degree visibility range. This means that no matter which direction your worker is facing, a driver will be able to see their reflective clothing in enough time to stop.
According to the latest ANSI update, all hi vis garments need to have a balanced design. This means that when you lay a vest flat, you can see 40% of the minimum amount of reflective material on either side. The rule was put in place so that workers can always be seen from both front and back.
When your hi vis clothing has regulation-approved fluorescent background material and retroreflective panels, wearers don’t have to worry about whether it’s day or night. No matter which shift they’re headed into, they can rest assured that their protective clothing will do the job.
When in Doubt, Play It Safe
Hi vis clothing doesn’t have to be federally mandated for it to be important. Volunteers and crossing guards need to be protected too. Never underestimate the danger of a work environment because it might result in an accident. Always choose the safe route when protecting your employees while they’re on the job.
You should also remember to wear hi vis clothing when out walking your dog at night or riding a bike home. These types of safety situations are easy to ignore because they’re normal parts of our day. If you’re out and about with cars on the road, always protect yourself with a hi vis vest or jacket.
Update Your Hi Vis Apparel
Ordering safety garments that meet hi vis clothing standards should be your top concern. Workplace deaths occur each year because of poor safety. Providing regulation-approved equipment can save your staff from major accidents.
Remember that the ANSI/ISEA 107-2015 outlines federal rules and standards for hi vis clothing. You can never be too protected. Following these national regulations saves lives.
Need help selecting the right high visibility garments for your team? You can get help from equipment professionals who know industry standards and safety protocols. No matter the job or the project, get a quote today and feel confident that your workers are protected.