Wearables

High Visibility, Highly Safe

There is an opportunity any time you work with clients in high-risk industries, such as construction, road work or manufacturing – any place where there is darkness, dim light, fog, smoke, or occasion where the worker may be hidden from view.

There is an opportunity any time you work with clients in high-risk industries, such as construction, road work or manufacturing –  any place where there is darkness, dim light, fog, smoke, or occasion where the worker may be hidden from view. The most dangerous situations for workers, according to the journal Safety Science, are speeding vehicles, distracted or aggressive drivers, working in wet weather and being close to a traffic stream. Help your client to improve worker safety by providing high-visibility workwear.

Typical high-visibility workwear includes bright colors (fluorescent orange or yellow) and reflective material that instantly shines when a light source (such as headlights) hits it. Beyond that, there are regulations that ensure high visibility is applied appropriately and meets required standards. “High-visibility garments are considered personal protective equipment (PPE) in numerous industries. This means the PPE for certain high-risk jobs is mandated by federal law for worker safety,” says Randi Blumenthal-Joseph, president of Penn Emblem Company (asi/77120). As an example, she cites Federal Regulation 23 CFR 634. It requires: “All workers within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway who are exposed to either traffic (vehicles using the highway for purposes of travel) or construction equipment within the work area shall wear high-visibility safety apparel.”

Blumenthal-Joseph also advises buyers to be clear as to whether the uniform they’re buying meets applicable ANSI/ISEA standards. The American National Standard ANSI/ISEA 107-2010, for example, “specifies requirements for apparel and headwear that is capable of visually signaling the user’s presence,” according to The International Safety Equipment Association. The ANSI/ISEA 207-2011 standard governs the design and use of high-visibility safety vests.

Another opportunity to enhance the performance of PPE is to provide identification or a logo in a high-visibility material. “Reflective/fluorescent emblems and transfers add an extra measure of safety to high-visibility uniforms,” Blumenthal-Joseph says.

Break It Down
A useful resource for understanding high visibility distinctions is www.workzonesafety.org. It explains that a piece of apparel can be broken into three parts when evaluating a garment’s visibility.

1. “The background of the apparel is a fluorescent colored base material that is intended to be highly visible.”

2. “The retroreflective material is the band of material on the apparel intended to reflect light back to the source when light shines on the apparel.”

3. “The combined-performance material is a combination of retroreflective and fluorescent material that can be counted toward the minimum area requirements for the background material.” The minimum area requirement depends on the class level performance; there are five performance types that are fully explained on workzonesafety.org.

High Visibility, Highly Safe