High visibility clothing, which is often abbreviated or stylized as simply "HV clothing" is a form of personal protective equipment-or PPE--typically worn by an employee in order to minimize exposure to potentially serious work place injuries, exposures or illnesses. High- visibility clothing is defined as any garment worn that features a highly reflective embellishment or is a color that is distinct from its background environment. Bright yellow jackets often worn by emergency responders at the scene of an automobile accident are a prime example--as are reflective orange vests that construction crews are typically seen in. Simply put, when workers use this brightly-colored and reflective clothing, they prevent harm to themselves and others by ensuring they are seen by motorists and other mobile hazards.
Several federal government agencies, such as OSHA, work in conjunction to set the standards for who must wear HV clothing, and the specifics that these garments must adhere to. US Safety and Health Administrations most commonly rely on an industry standard known simply as the "107", or more formally the "National Standard on High Visibility Safety Apparel and Head wear" for continuing guidance. Prior to purchasing HV gear, it is advisable to take a look at this standard, with the most recent 2010 additions included.
The 107's most recent updates included clothing standards outlined by the ANSI, or more formally the American National Standards Institute and the International Safety Equipment Association, often abbreviated ISEA. Approved in very early 2010, these amendments to the 107-2004 standard specifically outlined categories, classes and what easily-discernable colors of HV clothing were required by employees who, as a result of their work environments, were often exposed to transportation hazards. These personnel included construction crews, assessors and others who report to work on a daily basis near roadways.
The most recent standard stipulates three separate performance classes of High visibility clothing, based entirely on the wearer's work activities and/or environment. Class breakdowns supply wearers with an easy way to identify the most appropriate garment for their job and hazard level. Visibility clothing classes are distinguished via the quantity of required background material and the width of the reflective portion of the garment. Details are provided below:
Class 1: (HV Clothing should be only moderately noticeable, however the total area and reflective bands should not be any less than 25 millimeters wide): Class 1 clothing is intended for those who work in an environment where traffic does NOT travel more than 25 miles per hour AND separation from traffic is observed. Some examples of those who fall into this category include parking attendants, and employees who retrieve shopping carts.
Class 2: (This class mandates that the garment's background material---which is the colored florescent material--should be equal to 755 inches. Additionally, the minimum thickness of the reflective, or retroreflective band---which is the reflective material that returns a significant proportion of light in the direction from where it came--should equal 35 millimeters.) Class 2 clothing is designed for employees who labor near thoroughfares where cars, trucks or other vehicles on the road travel more than 25 miles per hour. As a result these workers also require greater visibility during times of inclement weather. Generally, class 2 clothing applies to railroad staff, crossing guards at educational institutions, and toll booth personnel.
Class 3: (In this category the HV clothing must include sleeves with reflective material between the shoulder and elbow area. Additionally, the background material must measure more than 1240 inches, while the reflective bands should not be less than 50millimeters in width.) Class 3 HV clothing applies to those who typically work in environments that see a wide range of weather conditions. Laborers in this environment also work near areas where traffic tends to exceed 50 mph. Examples of these specific personnel include emergency responders, traffic accident investigators, and utility crews.
Class E: (High Visibility clothing is considered to fall in the Class E category when only reflective, brightly-colored pants are worn.) When high-visibility pants are donned in an addition to Class two or three garments, the entire outfit is considered Class E.
Something else to keep in mind: Currently, three colors are acceptable for background material. These include fluorescent green (with a yellow hue), fluorescent red, and fluorescent orange-red. It is advised that those who work near roadways take some time to consider their individual natural as well as typical work environment and pick the best color option for daytime use. Not to worry---it is actually very simple. If you typically work near heavy foliage a red or orange color is probably best for you. Work in a desert landscape? Fluorescent green is probably your best option.
Please be advised that, according to public information, ISEA expects that another update to the 2010 version of the overall 107 will become available sometime in 2015.