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0 Comments | Aug 11, 2014

The Importance of High Visibility in Road Work

Road Work Ahead Traffic Safety Vests

The image of a construction worker wearing a brightly colored yellow or orange vest with reflective striping is synonymous with road work. Whether resurfacing existing roads, setting concrete forms for sidewalks, laying pipe for utility lines, or operating heavy machinery, construction workers always wear their high-visibility garments on the job. But why do they wear them?

As per the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices ruling of December 9th, 2009, as well as OSHA’s interpretation of the General Duty Clause in 2009, all workers within the right of way of any roadway where public travel occurs are required to wear high visibility safety apparel. This includes emergency responders, firefighters, law enforcement personnel, construction workers, flaggers, workers exposed to vehicle traffic near excavation sites, and all others working in any location where you can drive a vehicle without passing through a traffic control gate – including private property such as parking lots. In order to meet these requirements, garments are categorized under ANSI performance classes depending on the total amount of high-visibility material and retroreflective material used in the garment.

Each job site receives a risk assessment to determine whether ANSI 107 Performance Class 2 or 3 compliant garments are required, based on traffic speed, proximity to traffic, weather conditions, and the work required. Most job sites now require at minimum ANSI Class 2 certified vests, shirts, or other apparel, under the assumption that work will take place in or near moving traffic or in inclement weather, and the worker’s tasks will occasionally distract them from traffic. ANSI Class 3 apparel is typically called for when working near high-speed traffic and/or when the worker in question must devote all attention to their work; in short, the more dangerous the task, the more visible the worker needs to be for his own and others’ safety. ANSI Class E pants and headwear are materials that do not meet ANSI class requirements when worn alone, but can be worn with an ANSI Class 2 vest, jacket, shirt or other compliant garment to form a complete Class 3 ensemble.

Once an appropriate high-visibility solution is evaluated and chosen, companies issue appropriate certified hi-vis apparel to their workers and instruct them in their use and purpose, ensuring that they are worn appropriately. While no reflective product can guarantee visibility and safety under all conditions, these specifications and procedures are developed to ensure that workers receive the best assurance of safety possible given the circumstances, and improve safety for both workers and drivers.

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