Workplace Solutions High-visibility Protective clothing

High-visibility differences

What’s the difference between ANSI 107 Class 2 and Class 3 garments?

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Responding is Brian Nutt, senior product manager, Tingley Rubber Corp., Piscataway, NJ.

ANSI/ISEA 107 Class 2 or Class 3 garments are now required by law, under the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices 2009 revision, to be worn by workers on or alongside all roadways – public and private – in the country. Either class is considered acceptable under federal MUTCD, but individual states have the right to amend the law and some have chosen to narrow the requirement to require only Class 3.

Although similar, Class 2 and Class 3 have some substantial differences. All ANSI 107-compliant garments have the same general design and performance requirements that must be met. Additionally, each ANSI class has certain unique design requirements and minimum amounts of compliant background material and reflective tape to meet requirements.

ANSI Class 3 garments require 1,240 square inches of compliant background material and 310 inches of reflective tape. Compared to ANSI Class 2, this is 465 square inches of additional background material and 109 inches of additional reflective tape. From a design standpoint, Class 3 garments require sleeves with reflective tape that fully encircles the sleeves. A garment cannot be considered Class 3 regardless of how many inches of background material and reflective tape it has if it does not possess sleeves with reflective tape.

The reason for this requirement is simple. Without sleeves, when a wearer is turned sideways to oncoming traffic with their arms at their sides, their arms block the tape and background material. Without the tape and background material on the sleeves, the wearer may not be seen by the driver of the oncoming vehicle.

Class 2 garments, because they often lack sleeves, are required to have reflective tape that spans the shoulder area from front to back. This is done in part to ensure reflective tape exists in the upper part of the torso. Class 3 garments are not required to have this design feature because the requirement for 109 additional inches of tape and the requirement for tape on the sleeves often necessitates that tape be placed on the upper portions of the torso.

To allow more flexibility for the user, a Class 2 garment may be combined with a Class E garment to create a Class 3 ensemble. Class E garments essentially consist of pants or overall-type products. Class E is not considered a performance class and therefore these garments do not meet any level of visibility when worn alone. However, when worn, Class E garments add 465 square inches of background material and 108 inches of reflective tape that fully encircles the legs. When worn with a Class 2 garment, the Class E garment provides enhancements to the ensemble, including the ability to be seen from the side even when the wearer’s arms are down. For these reasons, the use of a Class 2 and Class E garment together are equivalent to the use of a Class 3 garment.

For additional information on the ANSI/ISEA 107 standard, please visit the ISEA website.

Editor's note: This article represents the independent views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

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