On November 24, 2009, new federal regulations went into effect, increasing the number of workers required to wear high visibility apparel. Regulation (23 CFR 634) states "all workers within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway who are exposed either to traffic (vehicles using the highway for purposes of travel) or to construction equipment within the work area shall wear high-visibility safety apparel."
Each year more than 100 workers are killed and over 20,000 are injured in the highway and street construction industry. The FHWA believes that this rule will improve visibility of workers within the Federal-aid highway right-of-way, thereby reducing these numbers.
The regulation specifically incorporates and specifies the ANSI/ISEA 107-2004 "National Standard for High-Visibility Safety Apparel and Headwear" requirements for the purposes of determining what is and is not compliant apparel, and requires workers to meet ANSI Class 2 or Class 3 standards.
How do you know what class of apparel you need? The ISEA (International Safety Equipment Association) based the categories on the color and complexity of the work environment, the task load of the worker, separation of the worker from moving equipment and vehicles, and other work environment variables.
Class 1 apparel provides the minimum amount of material necessary to differentiate the wearer from the work environment. Class 1 garments do not meet the new 23 CFR 634 federal regulation. Class 1 apparel is best for:
Class 2 garments provide superior visibility for wearers through the additional coverage of the torso. Class 2 apparel is more conspicuous than Class 1 apparel. Class 2 garments are best for:
Class 3 visibility is enhanced beyond Class 2 by the addition of background and retroreflective material to the arms and or/legs. Choose Class 3 apparel for:
Class E apparel applies to trousers and shorts and creates a high visibility ensemble. When Class E bottoms are worn with a Class 2 or 3 garment, the overall classification for the ensemble is Class 3. (Class 2 or Class 3 Top + Class E Bottoms = Class 3 Ensemble)
ANSI/ISEA 107-2004 also includes requirements for ANSI compliant headwear. Headwear is considered an important accessory and complements the overall visibility of the wearer. Headwear enhances visibility to the head of a moving worker in daylight and helps define the shape of a human during nighttime exposure.
High visibility clothing can mean the difference between life and death in the workplace. It’s crucial you and your workers wear the proper class of garments for your specific job. If you have any questions about which level of protection is right for you, please call our Technical Support Reps at 800.631.1246. They’ll give you the information you need to make the right choice.
Sources: http://www.ishn.com/Articles/Feature_Article/ BNP_GUID_9-5-2006_A_100000000000