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Updating apparel to comply with new hi-vis regulations

April 1, 2009

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Our employees currently wear the traditional fluorescent yellow or orange jackets. What can I do to make them compliant with the new federal ANSI 107 standards for nighttime visibility? Is buying all new garments the only solution?

Answered by Wayne Etchells, executive vice president, Metlon Corp., Cranston, RI.

Many organizations that had invested in uniforms prior to the current serious economic downturn are seeking to extend the life of their various uniforms or apparel. Fortunately, several practical and cost-efficient alternatives are available that will meet the new federal ANSI 107 standards for nighttime visibility while allowing you to use your existing outerwear-- in this case, jackets. Adding reflective material to your existing jackets is the simple answer and the best option

However, the first question is whether or not the jacket meets the daytime standard for fluorescence. (ANSI lists the guidelines in its publication; the manufacturer's inside hang tag should also verify compliance with the 107-2004 daytime standard.) Obviously, if the jacket is noncompliant at that level, applying the correct amount of reflective material will not meet the rigorous ANSI standard, so no additional investment in those garments is warranted.

For garments that are daytime compliant, the two types of products available are heat-applied transfer reflective films or sew-on reflective fabrics. The wearer's occupation and intended use further determines which additional properties are required of the reflective fabric. Flame-resistant features are required for electrical workers, and industrial wash fabrics (versus home washing) for those whose work is especially dirty. The selected laundering alternative is also available with or without flame resistance. While costs increase in relation to the product's additional attributes, buyers select only what they need.

A series of specific questions determines which product should be used. Among the most relevant questions are the occupation of the wearer, whether the wearer requires flame resistance and how the garment will be cleaned (which quickly determines whether the industrial products are necessary or preferable). Such evaluation enables the supplier to recommend the best solution and the best value for each customer.

Finally, the Class 2 and 3 standard determines the amount and placement of the reflective material, where the performance standards require 201 and 301 square inches, respectively. Of critical importance is the actual placement of the reflective material. The objective is to fully delineate the human form. As a result, there must be 360 degrees of nighttime visibility for both Class 2 and 3.



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