How High-Visibility Vests Increase Safety

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Employee safety is always a top priority in any business. To avoid the possibility of injuries, the use of high-visibility clothing is important. High-visibility clothing allows workers to be seen in low-light conditions where the risk of injury is high.

The American National Standard for High Visibility Safety Apparel and Accessories (ANSI/ISEA 2015) is a standard that was established by the American National Standards Institute. It offers performance specifications and material requirements for hi-vis apparel in the United States. The standard is important to EMS responders, utility workers, maintenance staff, airport ramp personnel, and other categories that include off-road workers who are routinely exposed to potential hazards.

Here is why this standard is important and how high-visibility apparel keeps workers safe from injuries.

employees in high visibility vest

Components of High-Visibility Design

High-visibility clothing is designed to be easily spotted. The human eye best responds to objects that are bright, large and moving. Because of this, high-visibility clothing has become important when it comes to workplace safety.

Importance of Color

Garments should be bright, attention-grabbing colors including fluorescent yellow-green, orange-red, and red. Along the garments are strips of reflective material colored with white or silver. This material is useful for workers who are active during night hours and in areas with low-visibility lighting. One common use of high-visibility vests is to make it easier for drivers to spot workers on the road in construction zones. The location and configuration of the reflective material will allow a person to know which way the wearer is standing – facing them, or with their back toward them. The reflective material should provide 360-degree visibility and should have horizontal gaps of 50mm or less.

Reflectivity Brightness

The work area will determine the color of the garment that workers are wearing.

  • Daylight areas use bright colors like fluorescent yellow-green over dull colors.
  • Low-light areas use fluorescent and reflective material.
  • Dark areas use retro-reflective material, phosphorescence (glow-in-the-dark) material, and bright colors.

Lightweight Material

The material of high-visibility vests is very lightweight and easy for workers to maneuver in. These garments are made from web or net-like mesh material. Mesh is used because of its ability to add a minimal amount of weight to a person and it dries easily if wet.

Comfortable Fit

Each garment should be fitted to the person so it’s not too big or small. Improper fit could cause injury to the person wearing the vest. The garment should be fitted to what the person will be wearing on a typical day. It should be able to fit over bulky clothing, and no other clothing should be blocking the garments in order to stay safe and seen.

Other Customizable Safety Options

High-visibility vests also have a variety of options to make them more customizable. Depending on the specific application, vests can have a varying number of pockets and closures. These pockets can be both inside and out and can be designed for different reasons, like holding cellphones, tablets, and drawings/blueprints. The closures on vests range from three different materials including Velcro, zippers and breakaway designs. Other add-ons that a person might need added to the vest are badge holders or a company logo sewn into the garment.

airline ramp personnel wearing high visibility vest

Different Types of High-Visibility Safety Vests

There are three different class types of visibility vests which are broken down even further into three different classes.

Type O

Type O is a class one type of vest, meaning this is a low-impact area where traffic would not exceed over 25 mph and a worker would be a far enough distance from danger. People who commonly wear Type O vests are those who work in an off-road area but may come into contact with moving vehicles or equipment. Workers that are required to wear Type O garments include parking assistants, warehouse workers, and delivery drivers.

Type R

Type R is a class two and class three type of garment. This type of vest makes up for the vast majority of garments used. These classes will come into contact with heavy traffic and the possibility of working in an area of low visibility. These garments will include either partial or full body coverage. Garments worn by Type R class two workers include airline ramp personnel, roadway construction workers, and ground crews.

Type P

Type P is class two and class three types of garments. Like Type R, these workers are in areas with heavy traffic and low visibility. This class is suited for emergency workers and law enforcement personnel like police, fire, and EMS workers.

Other High Visibility Garments

The type of work determines the garments someone will be wearing. The different types of high-visibility clothing items that could be seen in a work area include:

  • Vests
  • Overalls
  • Button-down shirts
  • Long and short-sleeve tee shirts
  • Pants
  • Rain gear
  • Jackets/fleeces
  • Sweatshirts

Always Keep Safety in Mind

Whether you are working in an office or on a roadway, safety should be a top priority. Always make sure to check your surroundings for any hazards that could harm yourself or others. Making sure all precautions are taken to ensure the safety of employees will make a happier and better workplace.

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