Monday, January 18, 2010

High-Visibility Safety Apparel

By Sandy Paquette, Trainer, Evergreen Safety Council

The American National Standard for High-Visibility Safety Apparel and Headwear (ANSI/ISEA 107-2004) is a standard established by the American National Standards Institute, Inc.

Before the first publication of this standard in 1999, there was no regulation or specific guideline for the design and performance of materials for high visibility safety apparel in the U.S. Since 1999, private industries as well as various federal, state, and local authorities have recognized the ANSI/ISEA 107-1999 standard.

Historically, the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices MUTCD (by the U.S. Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration) focused on visibility from the driver’s perspective: the use of traffic cones, drums, and signs to provide motorists with visual cues and clear channels of travel. Until the release of the 2003 edition where the ANSI 107-1999 was first introduced as a standard, the MUTCD provided only general guidelines for workers visibility in work zones.

The guidelines introduced in the 107-1999 standard have since become more explicit in the new 107-2004 standard. The American National Standard Institute, Inc. has broken down these specific guidelines into classes, and parameters that need to be addressed. These parameters include design, requirements for background and combined-performance for retro-reflective materials, photometric and physical performance requirements for retro-reflective materials and care labeling.

There are three distinct performance levels:
Class 1 – Apparel for the use in activities that permit the wearer’s full and undivided attention to approaching traffic. Ample separation of workers from traffic and speeds do not exceed 25 MPH.

Class 2 – Apparel for the use in activities where greater visibility is necessary during inclement weather or work in environments higher risks. Workers who perform tasks that divert their attention form approaching traffic or those with proximity to passing vehicles require a minimum of class 2. Class 2 is Washington State’s minimum for hours of daylight for flaggers.

Class 3 – Apparel for the highest level of visibility for workers facing serious hazards and/or high task loads that require attention away from their work. Garments cover more of the body, such as arms and legs to differentiate the worker from inanimate objects such as cones and other traffic control devices.

The combination of the Class2 garment and Class E pants equals a Class3 ensemble.

New regulations for high visibility apparel went into affect on November 24th of 2008
The Federal regulation CFR 634 states that “all workers” (including towing companies, emergency first responders, media and law enforcement) within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid-highway who are exposed either to traffic or construction equipment within the work area SHALL wear high visibility safety apparel meeting Class 2 or Class 3. Since there are 975,000 miles of Federal-aid-highways it is extremely difficult to determine what is and isn’t “Federal-aid” so, many employers are opting to assume that all roads are covered under the regulation to avoid inadvertent noncompliance.

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