Understanding the Standard for High-Visibility Clothing

High-visibility (abbreviated as hi-vis) clothing was designed to make you easier to spot when you are at a work site, out for a walk where vehicles are present or any other time you want to make sure that you are seen. All hi-vis clothing, however, is not created equal. There are different classes, different levels and different types.

The purpose of this paper is to help you navigate these differences to make sure that you have the best protection as well as being compliant.

The ANSI/ISEA 107-2015 standard was designed by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) along with the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) in order to determine which hi-vis vest, jacket, raingear, etc… needs to be worn in which situation in order to make sure that employees are visible enough to maintain a safe working environment.

Hi-vis garments are available in raingear, sweatshirts, T-shirts, pants, vests, fall protection vests, hats and incident command vests

Colors

There are only three colors that meet the standard. These colors are fluorescent yellow-green,

fluorescent orange-red and fluorescent red. Any other color does not meet the standard. Be aware of this as there are many different color vests available. Only these three colors meet the standard.

Class 1, 2, 3 and E

There are three classes of hi-vis clothing, each for a specific job application

Class 1 – Designed for areas that are removed from traffic or where the traffic that is present never exceeds 25 MPH.

A Class 1 vest or jacket must have a minimum of 6.46 linear feet of 2″ reflective tape or 9.39 linear feet of 1 3.8″ reflective tape and at least 217 in2 of high-visibility background material.

Class 2 – Designed for areas where the traffic does not exceed 50 MPH. As a general rule this includes most roadways but excludes highways.

A Class 2 garment must have a minimum of 8.375 linear feet of 2″ reflective tape or 12.2 linear feet of 1 3.8″ reflective tape and at least 775 in2 of high-visibility background material

Class 3 – Designed for highways and roadways where speeds will exceed 50 MPH.

A Class 3 garment must have a minimum of 12.92 linear feet of 2″ reflective tape and at least 1240 in2 of high-visibility background material.

Class E – Designed for pants. A Class E pair of pants adds additional background material and reflective tape so that, when combined with a class 2 vest, coat or jacket, we end up with a Class 3 assemble.

Level 1 and 2

In addition to having a “class” rating, you will often see a hi-vis garment with a “level” rating. The level rating actually applies to the reflective tape on the garment. Level 1 retro reflective tape must exceed 65cd/(lx • m2) at observation angle 12° and entrance angle 5° cd/(lx/m2) and a level 2 must exceed 330cd/(lx • m2) at observation angle 12° and entrance angle 5°.

Type “O’, “P” and “R”

Finally, there is also a “type” classification for hi-vis garment designed to reflect the environment in which they are used.

Type O – The “O” stands for “Off-road”.

Type R – The “R” stands for “Roadway”

Type P – The “P” stands for “Public Safety”

Additional considerations

Many hi-vis garments are now also available in a flame resistant material for work in environments where flammability is an issue. Look for the “FR” on the label.

Counterfeits and Fakes

There are plenty of hi-vis garments out there that are made with inferior materials that do not meet the standard. These garments may or may not have fake labels in them that say that they are ANSI approved when, in fact, they are not. Only purchase garment made by trusted manufacturers like M. L. Kishigo, PIP, Radians, Tingley, Majestic, Ergodyne, Blaklader and Occunomix.

hi-vis_standard_photo

Download the “Understanding the Standard for High-Visibility Clothing” whitepaper


FR garment comfort factors increase user compliance

I have no idea who wrote this whitepaper as they didn’t sign it or put any information about themselves or the company they work for but it’s one of the best papers out there for anyone trying to figure out which OSHA Standard applies to them as it relates to FR garments.

It’s on the bnpmedia.com website and it’s entitled “FR garment comfort factors increase user compliance

The 6 page document is a must read for anyone dealing with FR garments.


Beware of misleading FR labels!!!!

Are you in the market for Flame Retardant safety vests or garments for yourself or for your workers?

There is something important to be aware of before you make your purchase because not all FR ratings are created equal. What you will often find when you look at the label of the garment is that the FR rating referenced is NFPA 701.

You might be asking “So what? Why is this a problem? It’s NFPA isn’t it?” The reason that it’s a problem is because NFPA 701 is a standard that was developed years ago to test hotel draperies and curtains, not clothing! Check it out on the NFPA website.

The problem is that this standard isn’t strict enough to apply to clothing. Some Clothing manufacturers, however, are using it to sell polyester garments. All polyester will melt and drip. You do not want to be wearing polyester if you are going to be exposed to flames, no matter what the manufacturer tries to tell you about its FR properties.

At issue is the fact that other fibers that have inherent FR qualities are more expensive than polyester and, in the battle to sell more FR vests and garments, cheaper often wins the bid, particularly when the buyer doesn’t know the difference between the various standards.

So before you purchase a FR garment, make sure you know what standard is being referenced. It makes a world of difference!


The Basics of Reflective Garments (Part 5)

Conspicuity Class 3


  • For pedestrian workers and vehicle operators whose high task loads place them in danger.
  • Wearer must be conspicuous through the full range of body motions at a minimum of 390 m (1,280 feet).
  • Wearer must be identifiable as a person.

*** Drawings are for information purposes only and do not represent a specific required layout ***



High-Visibility Safety Apparel for:

  • Roadway construction workers
  • Utility workers
  • Survey crews
  • Emergency response personnel

Class 3 garments are trimmed with 12.92 linear feet of 50 mm (2″) trim.

You can download the past 5 posts as a single document (pdf format) here.


The Basics of Reflective Garments (Part 4)

Conspicuity Class 2

 

  • Workers require greater visibility under inclement weather conditions.
  • Work backgrounds are complex.
  • Tasks divert attention from approaching Vehicle traffic.


High-Visibility Safety Apparel for:

  • Roadway construction workers
  • Utility workers
  • Survey crews
  • Railway workers
  • School crossing guards
  • High-volume parking or toll-gate personnel
  • Airport baggage handlers/ground crew
  • Emergency response personnel
  • Law enforcement personnel
  • Accident site investigators

 

Class 2 garments are trimmed with 8.375 linear feet of 50 mm (2″) trim or 12.2 linear feet of 35 mm (1-3/8″) trim.

 


 


The Basics of Reflective Garments (Part 3)

Conspicuity Class 1

 

  • For workers in occupations that permit full and undivided attention to approaching traffic.
  • Work backgrounds are not complex.
  • Pedestrian workers are separated from traffic.



High-Visibility Safety Apparel for:

  • Parking lot attendants
  • Shopping cart retrievers
  • Warehouse workers
  • Roadside or sidewalk maintenance workers
  • Delivery vehicle drivers

 

Class 1 vests have 6.46 linear feet of 50 mm (2″) trim or 9.39 linear feet of35 mm (1-3/8″ trim.


The Basics of Reflective Garments (Part 2)

Yesterday we started trying to explain and clarify the ANSI/ISEA 107-2004 Standard concerning reflective clothing. We started by explaining some of the terms and clarifying some of the issues. Let’s go a little further…

Other Notes:

Specific Marking: Number of this specific ANSI standard (ANSI/ISEA 107-2004)

Pictogram showing the garment Class and level of performance of the retroreflective material.

Footage of Reflective Tape:

Class 1 Garments require 6.46 feet of Reflective Tape.

Class 2 Garments require 12.2 feet of Reflective Tape.

Class 3 Garments require 12.92 feet of Reflective Tape.

 

Background Colors: (Colors must be certified as one of the following before and after aging)

Fluorescent yellow-green (Fluorescent lime-yellow)

Fluorescent orange-red

Fluorescent red

 

Breathable:

Background material which is marketed as providing protection during rainfall, and classified as breathable shall be tested in accordance with ASTM-E96-00, Procedure B (upright) with a minimum requirement not lower then 600g/m²/24 hours; and Procedure BW (inverted) with a minimum requirement not lower then 3, 600g/m²/24 hours.


The Basics of Reflective Garments (Part 1)

What’s the difference between a class 2 garment and a class 3 garment? Which one should be used when?

Our posts this week are going to try to answer these question and clarify the ANSI/ISEA 107-2004 standard on reflective garments.
(Our thanks to Bob Neighdeigh from Tingley for providing us with this information and for giving us permission to use it.)

Let’s start by explaining some of the terms…

Key Definitions:

Background material: Colored fluorescent material intended to be highly conspicuous, but not intended to comply with the requirements of this standard for retroreflective material.

Fluorescent material: Material that emits optical radiation at wavelengths longer than absorbed. These materials enhance daytime visibility, especially during dawn and dusk.

Retroreflective material: Material which is a retroreflector and is either 1) not intended to comply with the requirements of this standard for background material, or 2) is a combined-performance retroreflective material.

Specific Requirements: Whenever multiple bands are placed on the garment, then bands shall be spaced in a manner which provides a minimum distance between bands of retroreflective material at least equal to the width of the band.

If upper bands are utilized, they shall encircle the upper part of the sleeves between the elbow and the shoulder. When lower placement is utilized, the bottom edge of the material shall not be less than 2 inches from the bottom of the sleeve.

Gaps in retroreflective and background materials to enable fastening shall not be more than 2 inches horizontally.

Class 1, 2, or 3 garments such as vests, waistcoats, jackets, ponchos, coveralls and bib overalls shall meet the requirements for the respective Class of high visibility safety clothing, and shall have contiguous areas of retroreflective material encircling the torso, placed in such a manner to provide 360 º visibility of the wearer. In addition, coveralls and bib overalls shall have continuous areas of retroreflective materials encircling each leg in such a manner to provide 360 º visibility of the wearer.

Overalls or Waistband trouser may be classified as Class E garments if they have a minimum of .07 m2 retroreflective material.

When such Class E garments are worn with a Class 2 vest, waistcoat, jacket, or poncho, the overall classification for the ensemble shall be classified as a Class 3 ensemble.

All reflective tape must be placed a minimum of 2 inches above the bottom edge of the garment and the sleeve.

Please note there is no specific required layout of reflective material, only specific layout requirements that must be met.