Why Hi-Vis Safety Clothing has Value for EVERYONE and not just workers. Every 15 hours. That’s how often a fatality occurred in work zone crashes in 2013, according to the Federal Highway Administration. And it’s no wonder, given that with cellphones, kids, makeup, newspapers, etc., today’s drivers are more distracted now than ever before.
Who Needs To Wear Hi-Vis Safety Apparel
That startling stat alone underscores why it’s so important for workers to wear bright, clean, and compliant hi-vis apparel at all times. But workers aren’t the only ones who could use higher visibility on the roads. This gear can go from workplace to weekend because non-workers – runners, bikers, dog walkers, etc. – could benefit, especially in rural areas where there are no sidewalks and people have to walk on the side of the road and dodge passing traffic.
In the summer, road construction projects are being done at night to minimize the disruption to traffic and give workers a break from summer’s oppressive heat. In the winter, however, darkness descends earlier, making reflectivity and visibility all the more important for workers and weekend warriors. While many may consider hi-vis vests and jackets to be the trappings of construction workers and traffic cops, they have utility for anyone who wants or needs to be seen. Joggers can layer a hi-vis mesh vest over their jackets or wear a hi-vis jacket or t-shirt themselves. In addition to better visibility, many of these products are now being made with added features like larger cellphone pockets and mic tabs for more storage and convenience.
How Much Reflective Material Is Required
Highway road construction workers are required to wear Type R Class 2 or Class 3 high visibility protection, depending on their specific job application. This can include hi-vis vests, jackets, t-shirts, pants and rain gear that is compliant to the ANSI/ISEA 107-2015 Hi-Visibility Apparel and Accessories Standard. Workers may also choose to be more conspicuous and better outline their human form by wearing headwear and accessories made from ANSI-compliant materials.
These different classes come with their own set of background and retroreflective material requirements for the garments to be compliant to the standard. At night, the reflective material that is put on the garment in a way to outline the human form is the most important part of a hi-vis garment. A light source must be present to reflect the light off the reflective material and back to that source. In nighttime work zones, for example, this light source is typically automobile headlights. The reflected light alerts drivers to the presence of a worker.
The Correct Fit Is Also Important
Not only is it important for workers and weekend warriors to wear bright, clean and (ideally) compliant hi-vis apparel, but it should also fit properly. Because when a vest/shirt is not worn correctly, its function is immediately compromised. With that in mind, some manufacturing companies have started offering a smaller size in several garments to better accommodate petite workers. Which means workers and weekend warriors won’t have to worry about a hi-vis shirt or vest drooping down past their knees, possibly catching in equipment or machinery, on mailboxes, tree branches, passing cars, etc.
Ultimately, hi-vis apparel can be used by more than just workers in construction, utilities and public safety. Everyday Joes and Janes shouldn’t be afraid to don hi-vis on the weekend when they need to make their presence known.