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What makes a hi-vis safety vest ANSI compliant?

Q:

I see high visibility safety vests every day at work. But that got me thinking, what makes a hi-vis safety vest ANSI compliant?

A:

The American National Standards Institute, Inc. (ANSI) has provided standards for high-visibility safety apparel since 1999. These standards address design, material, and care labeling requirements for hi-vis apparel.

This gear is intended for a wide range of industries. Construction, maintenance, and utility workers benefit from the increased visibility it provides. Emergency response teams and airport crews must also use hi-vis PPE. ANSI compliance state that the high-visibility vests used by these workers must meet various standards. The standards dictate the specific type and class of garment appropriate for their job.

There are three different colors to choose from when selecting a base material for a high-visibility vest:

  • Fluorescent red
  • Fluorescent orange-red
  • Fluorescent yellow-green

The work environment should determine the color choice. The most appropriate color offers the greatest contrast with the workers' surroundings.

Each high-visibility safety vest must also include retroreflective material bands. This vest feature offers contrast with the garment’s base color. The bands should allow wearers to be visible from every angle. They should also fulfill specific requirements for width and placement.

Your job may require you to select appropriate hi-vis apparel for your team. It is crucial to assess the required class of garment for the tasks at hand. Off-road workers who need to be visible to coworkers operating machinery need Class 1 items. Those who need to be seen by low-speed vehicles should also wear Class 1 apparel.

If your team is working along roadways where public traffic is an issue, consider Class 2 or Class 3 gear. These items provide more retroreflective material. Class 3 items provide the greatest amount of visibility. They include more full-coverage options like jackets and overalls (more information on Types and Classes of high-visibility apparel can be found in How to Ensure Outdoor Worker Visibility).

ANSI/ISEA 107-2015 provides more details about accessories such as gloves and armbands. It also contains standards on fitting workers of smaller stature. Part of the standard is that outfitted items need to provide maximum visibility.

Finally, to be ANSI compliant, accredited laboratories must test all items and materials. Finished items must have a Declaration of Conformity.

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Written by Rick Raether
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President of USA Safety Supply

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