Workplace Solutions High-visibility Protective clothing

High-visibility apparel

With such strict regulations on high-visibility apparel, how can a worker stay comfortable and compliant?

Responding is Andy Olson, associate product director, Ergodyne, St. Paul, MN.

High-visibility apparel is now required personal protective equipment in more and more places. Certainly on roadways, but also in construction work zones, transportation and public safety. ANSI 107 Class 2 vests remain a very common and economical way for employers to keep their workers safe and visible. However, increasingly workers are demanding and benefitting from “single garment compliance solutions” such as T-shirts, sweatshirts and jackets that provide visibility while also helping them manage the elements of their application and increasing their comfort. In warm applications and climates, workers may choose to wear a T-shirt or polo that is both high-visibility and can serve as their primary garment, not having to layer a vest over a non-compliant shirt. Moisture-wicking and anti-odor technologies keep workers cooler and fresher. When selecting these types of products, look for garments with heat-transfer reflective material (instead of reflective that is sewn on) to further increase worker comfort.

In chilly situations, workers have a host of options in sweatshirts and fleece garments to keep them both visible and warm. Hooded sweatshirts have become a go-to item for the worker who wants to be seen both day and night. Hoods can be worn alone or under hard hats on cool mornings, and then removed as the day heats up, all the while keeping the worker comfortable and conspicuous. Dark fabric zones on high-wear areas of these types of garments, such as lower fronts and lower sleeves, can help hide dirt. When considering this type of “color blocked” design, it is important to ensure that the manufacturer has taken into account the impact on florescent background material area and that the garment remains compliant to ANSI 107 requirements. Always ask the manufacturer for a garment certificate of compliance – it’s required.

Coats and jackets provide the greatest level of cold-weather comfort. In addition to keeping workers visible on the job, foul weather gear garments are available with waterproof coatings that keep out moisture. When selecting a waterproof garment, ensure the waterproof coating is also breathable to allow for sweat to escape throughout the workday. Specialized coats and jackets have evolved to the point where one garment may be all a worker needs year-round.

Zip-out thermal liners quickly and easily convert warm, winter jackets to non-insulated raincoats and back again. Some thermal liners are also wearable on their own as a lightweight jacket as conditions change. There are even jackets that offer ANSI 107 high-visibility compliance on both the outer shell and the inner lining.

Whatever the application calls for, a host of garment styles and options are now available to keep workers visible, comfortable and compliant.

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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