By Justin Krook, Viz Reflectives North America

Would you allow your workers to wear safety glasses that covered one eye, glove for one hand or fall protection that had a 33% chance of failing? It sounds so ridiculous! We would never use anything that only protects us part of the time...right???

This is EXACTLY what happens every time we send our workers out with traditional High Visibility. The wearer is only protected during the day by the (fluorescent fabrics) and in the dark when a light is present (retro-reflective tape). When a light is not present your worker may as well be in complete black or nothing at all as their garment does NOT enhance their ability to be seen when there is low or zero light! I will give examples of real life accidents that has resulted in these companies now being our customers! PLEASE do not wait for an accident to happen!

Example #1 A large contractor doing road and bridge work has the entire work area well "lit" by powerful work lights. They can not close both lanes so work area is tight. The "staging" area for storing materials is 2,000 ft down the road in area not as well "lit." When Worker #1 (wearing traditional class 3 Hi-Viz) is at "staging location" loading rebar and structural steel beams onto a "front end loader" with "forks" operated by Worker #2. When worker #1 realizes a bucket of steel "clips" is behind the trailer and leaves to get them. The operator (Worker #2) does not see the worker go behind him and begins backing up. Worker #1 comes from behind the trailer seeing long rebar and beam and stays back but in the dark shadow on the side of the trailer in order to give the "loader" enough room to get by. When the operator (worker #2) doesn't see anyone he begins to turn knowing know the long pieces will miss the trailer but can not see Worker # 1 as he is in a dark environment and without a light to reflect off of him. As the "loader" turns the longs steel pieces catch worker#1 in the thigh tearing through the muscle and breaking his Femur. They soon contacted their safety distributor and asked if they could buy samples of "Alpha WorkWear" to run a experiment. As the safety director and another worker stood at the very same spot of the accident one was wearing our garment and the other wearing their company issued Hi-Viz. As soon as they got into the position it was VERY clear this accident would NOT have happened if they had been wearing "Alpha WorkWear!" Now it is a company policy EVERYONE wearing Hi-Viz wears a "Alpha WorkWear" garment!

Example #2 Worker #1 goes into a very large compactor when he sees a piece of debris sticking out and tries to remove it. Worker #2 operator of "front end loader" does not see him enter and can not see him inside as he is going from the light into the dark. As the "loader" enters worker #1 stands off to the side assuming he is visible. When all of a sudden he gets scooped up along with compacted waste instantly breaking both ankles. Even though yelling out in pain the operator does not realize he is in the bucket until he is back in the sunlight and the worker is visible. When the safety director began looking for a way to prevent this from happening again is when he discovered "Alpha WorkWear" They also did a experiment with our garments and sure enough the only person visible was the worker wearing our "Alpha" garment!

Example #3 Worker #1 was backing a trailer into a long narrow garage bay for repairs. Worker #2 was the spotter directing him back. When the trailer and truck made it past the overhead door it was shut to conserve heat. While continuing to back up the "spotter" tripped and fell. Worker #1 did not see this as his eyes had not completely adjusted from the sunlight. Worker #1 stated he suddenly heard "STOP" and by the time he hit he brakes the trailer was already on his ankle crushing it badly! A couple months after the accident they happened to stop by our booth at the NSC in Anaheim. As soon as they saw the intensity of our "glow" they told me the story of the accident. Since then they have tested our "Alpha" garments in the garage bay after being outside in the sun...they backed in closed the door and had a spotter lay on the floor...sure enough he could still be seen!

I could go on and on re-telling about accident but one constant in every accident is the injured person was not visible even though they were wearing their Hi-Viz! This brings us back to the very beginning of this article...why are WE allowing workers to wear Hi-Viz that only works part time? We already concluded we wouldn't do it for other PPE. We allow workers to put it on and if there is a accident then the solution is..."we need more lights, better driving routes and schedules, more spotters, louder "back up" sirens etc. Yes all of these help but when you are already buying Hi-Viz it is easier and far less expensive to switching your Hi-Viz to "Alpha WorkWear" is as simple as that!

FYI Even though our DT will glow for over 8 hours the most important time is the first 60 minutes. Let me explain...nobody works in complete darkness or they wouldn't be able to see what they are doing. You need some sort of light whether its headlights, flashlights, street lights or work lights. Any of one of these will charge the garment. When the worker steps away from the light is when they are unprotected. It is VERY likely the worker will go back in the light in less than 60 minutes unless they're hiding from their boss!!

For more information about "Viz Reflectives North America" or any of our products please visit our website or call your safety distributor. Please share this with everyone you know and don't know! Every week we receive calls asking if our garments would have worked in certain situations. We always suggest to try for themselves...once they do a common response is "why didn't I know about this before?" Please help spread the word! Let's pay it forward so we can prevent some of these accidents...a life could depend on it!!