Solution Summary: High-Visibility Safety Apparel
High-visibility safety apparel are personal protective clothing that increase worker visibility. The reflective properties of the garment utilizes fluorescent colors and retroflective material that can help increase worker visibility during day- and night-time work zone construction and maintenance activities.
The Federal Highway Adminstration's (FHWA) Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) defines the required high-visibility clothing for use in construction and maintenance of all public streets, highways, bikeways, and private roads open to public traffic. On May 20, 2010, FHWA issued an official interpretation that garments must be labeled as meeting ANSI/ISEA 107-2010 to be in compliance with sections of the 2009 MUTCD covering workers, flaggers and adult crossing guards. ANSI/ISEA 107-2010 is widely accepted as the best way to protect workers against hazards of low visibility, and to enhance the visibility of workers who are exposed to struck-by injuries.
ANSI 107-2010 identifies three classes of high visibility safety apparel. Selection of the appropriate class depends on worker activity, visual complexity of the work area, and traffic speed and volume. The fabric must be fluorescent yellow-green, fluorescent orange-red, or fluorescent red.
Class I are designed for work conditions where traffic does not exceed 25 mph and where there is ample separation from the traffic. This class is used for workers in traffic settings where their attention will not be diverted from approaching vehicles.
Class II contain more reflective materials and are designed for conditions where greater visibility is needed due to inclement weather, presence of complex backgrounds, and when work activities are closer to moving traffic. This class is used for workers in traffic settings where their attention will likely be diverted from approaching vehicles. It is intended for work sites where vehicle speeds range from 25-50 mph.
Class III has the greatest amount of reflective material and are used in zones with traffic speeds greater than 50 mph. These are typically full-body suits that provide the highest level of conspicuity and can be seen at a minimum of 1,280 feet.
Working in work zones during the day- or night-time without the proper flourescent or reflective apparel can lead to struck-by injuries or fatalities. Workers donning the appropriate high-visibility gear can increase visibility from the flourescent color and its reflective material when light shines upon it, especially from nightime vehicular headlights or work zone lighting.
How Risks are Reduced:
By wearing bright-colored apparel, worker visibility is increased. The illumination provided by night-time oncoming vehicular traffic or work zone lighting onto the reflective material emits a bright glow as well.
High visibility safety apparel serves as a stimulus to heighten driver awareness to the presence of construction workers in work zones.
Effects on Productivity:
There is limited evidence on the effects of productivity while wearing high visibility safety apparel.
Jean Christophe Le, MPH. - CPWR - The Center for Construction Research and Training.
NIOSH Workplace Solutions Sheet
The National Institute of Safety and Health (NIOSH) has published a series of “Workplace Solutions”, which are easy-to-understand recommendations from NIOSH research results. Related to this Construction Solution, please find more information on: Preventing Worker Injuries and Deaths from Backing Construction Vehicles and Equipment at Roadway Construction Worksites