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Five Questions Every Safety Manager Should Ask When Choosing High-Vis Apparel

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

Choosing the right high-visibility clothing for the job per the ANSI standard is a good first step to preventing injuries on a work site. But workers must use the garments and care for them.

There's more to high-visibility safety apparel than meets the eye. By definition, it's clothing with highly reflective properties that help workers stay visible against any background and in any lighting conditions, even at night. The ability to be seen is critical for worker safety, especially for those working around moving vehicles and equipment—from construction sites to roadways, and in warehouses.

But not all high-visibility garments are the same, and requirements vary across the wide range of uses and environments workers face every day. The following is a handy primer on selecting the right high-visibility products for your organization and job functions.

WHO wears high-visibility apparel? Many workers are either required or choose to wear high-visibility apparel to reduce the incidence of on-the-job accidents and injuries. These include highway and railway crews, airport workers, loggers, hunters, commercial fishermen, construction tradespeople, trash and recycling collectors, landscaping professionals, warehouse workers, first responders, and many others.

The key is to choose the high-visibility option that provides the greatest degree of contrast between a worker's body and his or her surroundings. Hunting laws in many states, for instance, require hunters to wear blaze orange garments to distinguish them from game animals. When working in or around heavy foliage, orange or red apparel options may be preferable. The color of work zone equipment also can influence the best choice of fluorescent background materials.

WHEN is high-visibility apparel required? The federal mandate that requires select workers to wear high-visibility apparel can be found in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices 2009 (MUTCD 2009), which is translated and enforced by each state. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration also has developed an interpretation statement regarding MUCTD, intended to clarify when high-visibility apparel is required. It can be found at:

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