Answers to High Visibility Clothing FAQs
Here are some answers to high visibility clothing FAQs that will help you understand the rules and importance of this clothing to ensure worker protection and uphold ANSI compliance:
What is the Federal Highway Worker Visibility Rule?
Rule 23 CFR Sec. 634, also known as the Federal Highway Worker Visibility Rule was the initial step to create the U.S. high visibility rule for workers. It applied to workers near or on Federal-Aid highways. In 2009, the Federal Highway Administration added the 23 CFR Sec. 634 to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). Today, it applies to workers across all public access roadways. OSHA inspectors enforce this regulation on construction, landscaping, maintenance, survey, paving, towing, emergency, flagging, utility, and other types of workers.
What types of garments meet the stated high visibility requirements?
Garments labeled and certified as ANSI/ISEA 107 meet the standard specifications for high visibility personal protective safety clothing in America. In some cases, the garments also have to meet specific firefighter standards.
Near or on roadways, workers must wear performance Class 2 or 3 ANSI/ISEA 107 garments to ensure they are compliant with the worker high visibility rule in the FHWA Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices Section 6D.03. The Federal Highway Administration has recognized ANSI/ISEA 107 revisions since 2004.
What is ANSI 107?
The ANSI/ISEA 107 is the American National Standard for high visibility safety clothing and accessories. It’s a voluntary standard with rules and practical instructions regarding garment design and the use of reflective materials to ensure and boost worker visibility. ANSI/ISEA 107 has three performance classes of high visibility clothing and categorizes types of garments based on expected work activities and use cases. These categories are designated as:
- Type O – off-road
- Type P –– public safety activities
- Type R – roadway and temporary traffic control
What are the differences between the three ANSI classes?
The three ANSI classes are categorized based on the minimum amount of retro-reflective material, its configuration, and other technical garment design requirements. A worker can select which garment class they should wear based on their risk assessment.
Here’s an overview of the ANSI classes:
Type O – Class 1
It offers the minimum amount of high visibility materials and hence is only ideal for off-road environments.
Type P or R – Class 2
Performance Class 2 offers the minimum level of protection to workers working on roadway rights-of-way and temporary traffic control zones. Garments in ANSI Class 2 have additional high visibility materials to better define the human form.
Type P or R – Class 3
Class 3 offers more visibility to the worker in both complex backgrounds and via a full range of movement through the required retro-reflective, background, and performance material placement. These garments have the greatest level of high visibility material.
ANSI Class E
High visibility clothing that doesn’t meet the standard requirements when worn unaccompanied. But when a worker wears a Class E item with a Class 3 or Class 3 garment, the overall class of the outfit becomes Class 3.
What is enhanced visibility, and is it the same as high visibility?
No, the term enhanced visibility is not the same as high visibility. The former can be used to describe any garment with retro-reflective striping added to it in any design and configuration. The garment does not have to be ANSI-compliant, and workers typically wear it in lower-risk environments. It offers them the benefit of heightened visibility in low light conditions.
Is ANSI/ISEA 107 a rule authorized by OSHA or some other governmental agency?
Not at all! ANSI is a voluntary CONSENSUS standard. It’s a specific standard for the construction of effective high-vis work clothing. Workers can use ANSI/OISEA 107 clothing to comply with Federal Regulations, or they might have to use them voluntarily in work environments that present hazards even if the federal rules do not apply.
Can I add reflective stripes to my existing uniforms to ensure my employees’ ANSI compliance?
No! Reflective stripes create retro-reflectivity for darkness only. However, ANSI/ISEA 107 clearly mentions that for the garments to be ANSI-compliant, they need to offer acceptable visibility even during daylight hours. It is why the ANSI standard dictates the garments’ background hues should be orange, red, or lime green, i.e., colors that are considered fluorescent. If you only add reflective stripes to your existing garments, they will turn into enhanced visibility garments instead of the high visibility clothing required by ANSI/ISEA 107.
Can I purchase discounted reflective safety vests at the local retailer to ensure ANSI compliance?
Perhaps you can do that, but remember that those retro-reflective and background materials need to be certified to verify safety performance. Typically, it’s best to purchase your safety PPE from a reliable safety supplier who applies standard assessment practices to ensure ANSI compliance, even if they charge a little more.
How long do high visibility garments last and remain compliant with ANSI?
The exact service lifetime of high-vis work clothing will vary, depending on its exposure to wear and tear, how long the wearer uses it each day, and how well they take care of and launder the item.
Certified ANSI-compliant retro-reflective clothing that uses top-quality certified reflective tape and background garments are the best and last the longest. Your safest bet to ensure your high visibility garments longevity is to use a reliable safety clothing manufacturer like 360 USA.
What is the difference between CSA Z96 and ANSI/ISEA 107?
CSA Z96 is the Canadian standard for high visibility safety clothing created by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). It’s based on ANSI 107 and has similarities in terms of test methods, photometric, and the retro-reflective performance of materials used.
However, there are key differences in the configuration of the retro-reflective materials used and the garment design requirements for both. With that said, a garment that is ANSI 107-compliant does not necessarily have to be CSA-compliant and vice versa.