Under recently published rules in December 2009, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) adopted the 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). This rule requires all public road workers nationwide working in a rightof- way of a Federal-aid highway or work zone area to wear high-visibility apparel. The apparel must meet Performance Class 2 or 3 requirements of ANSI/ISEA 207-2004, the American National Standard for High Visibility Safety Apparel and Headwear.

High-visibility apparel is one of the most prominent needs for all workers who perform tasks near moving vehicles or equipment and is recognized as a critical issue for worker safety. This rule applies to anyone on foot whose duties place them within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway. Examples of these workers are construction, maintenance, survey and utility crews as well as first responders and law enforcement personnel responding to incidents or traffic-related issues in these areas.

Performance guidelines

CLASS 1 high-visibility apparel provides a minimum amount of necessary reflective striping to differentiate the wearer from the work environment. Class 1 is typically worn by workers who are well separated from traffic, and nearby vehicle and equipment speed does not exceed 25 mph. Examples of workers who meet this situation include: parking lot attendants, shopping cart retrievers, warehouse workers, roadside/sidewalk maintenance workers and delivery vehicle drivers.

CLASS 2 high-visibility apparel provides superior visibility by the additional coverage of the reflective striping on the torso, and is more conspicuous than Class 1. Class 2 high-visibility apparel is intended to offer greater visibility to the wearer in both complex backgrounds and through a full range of body motions. Class 2 is typically worn by workers who are working on or near roadways where nearby vehicle and equipment speed exceeds 25 mph. Examples of workers who meet this situation include: roadway construction workers, utility workers, survey crews, law enforcement personnel, school crossing guards, high-volume parking lot or toll-gate personnel, airport baggage handlers and ground crews, railway workers, emergency response personnel and accident site investigators.

CLASS 3 high-visibility is achieved with the addition of background and retroreflective material to the apparel’s arms and/or legs. Class 3 is typically worn by workers who are in high-risk situations where nearby vehicle and equipment speed is significantly higher and/or sight distances are reduced. Class 3 apparel allows wearers to be seen from a minimum distance of 1,280 feet. Examples of workers who meet this situation include: roadway construction workers, utility crews, survey crews, emergency response personnel, towing operators and road assistance/courtesy patrols.

CLASS E high-visibility is a standard that is applied to trousers or shorts that are used to create a high-visibility ensemble. When Class E bottoms are worn with a Class 2 or 3 upper-body garment, the overall classification is Class 3.

Lime or orange?

Workers should choose the color that will make them stand out in their working environment. The last thing you want on the job site is to look like a bright orange construction barrel on the side of the highway! Differentiating colors are key to a worker’s safety on the job. Bright lime garments will best differentiate workers from orangecolored work vehicles, signs and construction barrels. Bright orange apparel is recommended for those working in leafy green areas.

Reflective materials

Garments with 3M™ Scotchlite™ reflective material offer a technology called retroreflection, which helps the eye perceive light during nighttime and low-light conditions. Retroflection occurs when light rays are returned directly to the original light source, such as car headlights. Because little light is scattered when the light is returned, retroreflective materials appear brightest to motorists and vehicle operators.

Making the buy

Workwear is expensive. Consumers want to feel like they are making a purchase that will withstand day-to-day heavy-lifting tasks that will, over time, test the durability of the products they purchased to wear. On the job, workers don’t want to worry about the strength and durability of their workwear — they just want it to work as hard as they do. To ensure that your high-visibility workwear is built to last and offer you the fullest advantage, here are four questions to ask about the quality:

Does the high-visibility garment meet ANSI/ISEA 107-2004 safety apparel standards?

Does the garment provide a level of visibility beyond that of standard workwear?

Is the garment also offered for warm, cold and wet weather conditions? If you like the style, inquire if you can purchase it in weights appropriate for all weather conditions.

Does this style offer the same durability, strength and comfort received from your non high-visibility workwear? You want the same durability and comfort that you receive from your non-high-visibility workwear — so demand it in your high-visibility workwear, too.