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How Premium Safety Vests Can Help Workers Be Visible and Do Their Job Safely

Wearing PPE is considered the last line of defense - all reasonable measures should be taken to limit or eliminate hazards before depending on PPE to protect workers. However, high-visibility safety vests can reduce the likelihood of injury by highlighting workers against their environmental background. Vests with additional features like LED lights, cooling polymers, pockets, and more can actually assist workers in performing their jobs. Instead of viewing vests as a liability and annoyance, premium safety vests can change the reputation of PPE garments by improving efficiency an enhancing comfort.

The ANSI/ISEA 107-2020 standard outlines the minimum amount of background and reflective material required for each vest. It also requires that the reflective material "throw back" light in close to the same direction as the light is shined. For instance, headlights shining on an HVSA (High-Visibility Safety Apparel) compliant suit should see a bright reflection from the stripes on a worker's vest or jacket.

When choosing appropriate HVSA, the ANSI/ISEA 107-2020 standard instructs safety professionals to consider the environment in which workers are operating. The appropriate background color should be chosen so that individuals' shapes are clearly defined. For instance, fluorescent yellow/green may be a poor choice in a rural environment where the landscape and background is predominantly green. Fluorescent orange-red or fluorescent red would be a better choice in this scenario to outline workers for enhanced visibility.

The ANSI standard also provides minimum requirements for colorfastness (how much a garment holds color after washing and wear), care labeling (how to wash/care for a garment), and a guide for reporting the compliance of high-visibility safety wear.

ANSI Standard - Type O, R, and P

Why the different types of ANSI-compliant safety wear? Different jobs require different equipment, therefor the ANSI/ISEA 107-2020 standard has evolved to include separate requirements for off-road and non-roadway workers (Type O), roadway workers (Type R), and incident responders (Type P). Each type of garment has a minimum requirement for the amount of background material (high-visibility orange-red, red, and yellow/green) and reflective that a garment must possess. There are also limitations on where the reflective must be placed as well as the distance between reflective stripes so that the garment complies with the standard.

Type O - off-road - garments have the lowest requirement for background and reflective material. These garments may be appropriate for workers who do not encounter moving vehicles. These garments may also be used for workers in warehouses, mining, refinery, or parking attendants. Workers in Type O garments should be able to give full attention to any approaching traffic, be clearly outlined against the background, and separated from any vehicle traffic. Class 1 garments are only appropriate for the Type O designation.

Type R - roadway - garments may provide adequate visibility for workers near roadways where vehicles/machinery commonly move. Type R garments include Class 2 and Class 3 safety wear. Class 2 allows workers' shapes to be defined from front and back, and are appropriate for work with roadways above 25 mph. Class 3 safety garments have additional reflective on sleeves to be easily identifiable from 360 degrees of viewing around the arms and are often used in close proximity to roadways that may exceed 50 mph.

Type P garments have a lower measurable area requirement than Type R for background material. They are designed for incident and first responders, such as police and fire workers. The requirements for Type P garments take into account the needs of these individuals for additional equipment or protection close at hand.

But what if workers need more than just enhanced visibility?

Premium vests also address other needs with special features that workers may need in their safety wear. Instead of PPE being a burden, the unique features of these vests can solve two problems at once:

  1. Enhance visibility
  2. Protect workers from heat stress, cold, flame, or other hazards

Unique Premium Vests

Some hazards commonly faced by workers needing high-visibility PPE have been addressed with innovations to safety wear. Premium FrogWear® HV (high-visibility) safety wear can help reduce the hazards by outfitting workers in:

  1. LED-Lighted and Photoluminescent Vests
  2. Cooling Vests
  3. Break-Away Vests
  4. Insulated Vests
  5. Flame-Resistant Vests
  6. Mic Tabs, D-ring, Pockets, and More

Vests with these unique features can provide additional value to workers and safety managers by addressing more than one hazard or need simultaneously. On many vests, contrasting trim enhances visibility and further distinguishes workers from their environment.

LED-Lighted and Photoluminescent Vests

Additional visibility enhancements have been made to some vests, so that they provide visibility even in darkness, without the need for reflected light.

LED-Lighted Vests Led-lighted vest

LED-lighted vests such as the GLB12LEDLGXX go above and beyond the ANSI standard for visibility. These unique vests are equipped with LED lights that help identify workers, even in the dark. This vest is great for highway construction workers, traffic safety, job site safety or any industry that has high visibility requirements.

It features blinking red LED lights on front and back. While properly placed reflective material casts light back, LED lights provide another measure of safety by increasing visibility when no light is shined. Approximately 24 hours of continuous battery life when using two AA batteries.

Photoluminescent Vests

Another enhanced visibility option for workers in the dark is photoluminescent trim. This unique material absorbs UV light from the sun or other UV light source and then glows in the dark. Just one hour of sunlight can provide up to 8 hours of glowing.

Photoluminescent vests can be an effective alternative to LED vests since they do not require batteries or chargers. For workers who transition between light and dark environments, these vests may provide a high standard of visibility not found with standard ANSI-compliant vests.

Cooling Vests

Workers in hot or humid environments commonly face the risk of overheating or heat exhaustion while wearing high-visibility safety wear. Many individuals choose to wear additional cooling protection under their ANSI-compliant safety wear, but this poses an added burden to the worker or company to purchase additional PPE. Many cooling vests offer an ANSI Class rating that eliminates the need for dual garments by combining a cooling interior with a high-visibility exterior and reflective stripes. Most evaporative cooling vests cool workers for up to six hours after activation, without the need to wear an additional vest over it. High Visibility Cooling vests are solving two problems at once keeping expenses down and comfort up which makes workers and safety managers happy.

Break-Away Vests

For individuals working with machinery where clothing can become caught, break-away vests may help prevent incidents and injuries. These high-visibility vests feature hook-and-loop closures in 5 areas (front, both shoulders, and both sides). The ability to tear away from a garment allows workers to escape from machinery where clothing has been caught, where a standard high-visibility vest may pull the worker into the machine, break-away vests allow for escape.

Insulated Vests

While cooling vests can reduce the hazards of heat and humidity, insulated vests protect workers from cold and wind. Some insulated vests are reversible and can relieve workers from the need to wear an insulated vest underneath a high-visibility safety vest, solving two problems at once.

Flame-Resistant Vests

Vests that meet NFPA 70E Arc Flash standards for PPE clothing may be suitable for providing additional visibility to other flame-resistant garments. These garments are made with modacrylic mesh and other inherently flame-resistant materials to quickly self-extinguish and limit the injuries sustained in arc flash or flame hazard environments. It is worth noting that some vests are inherently flame-resistant and others have an FR-treatment applied to the garment, this will determine how you can care for your vest and whether its ability to withstand flame is not diminished with washing.

Mic Tabs, D-ring, Pockets, and More

While standard vests are cost-effective and allow workers to be compliant with the ANSI/ISEA 107-2020 standard, premium vests can provide additional functionality and address multiple hazards with one garment.

Surveyor vests, as they are commonly known, have a variety of pockets to keep gear and tools close at hand. Some styles like the RTZ059 and RTZ058 feature a long pocket in the back of the vest, accessible from the outside. This extended pocket can conveniently hold a tablet, maps, or other larger accessories.

Mic tabs on vests allow workers to hang a walkie-talkie or other communication device within easy reach. When not in use, mic tabs blend into the reflective trim without sacrificing reflective visibility.

For some workers at heights, a D-ring pass-through in the back of the vest may prove invaluable. This extra feature found on vests like the GLB067 allows workers who are required to wear a harness to easily comply with workplace guidelines for high visibility.

Other features like snaps (for quick removal and donning), black or camouflage bottom fabric on the lower half of the vest (to enhance the appearance of cleanliness), and grommets further equip vests to support workers in their environment.

Shop Global Glove Vests >

Ritz Safety, a family-owned business since 1983, is here to serve you. Our 13 sales and distribution centers across the United States provide a wide array of PPE and safety solutions, promoting all workers' health, well-being, and protection. Contact us at or 800-451-3077 for convenient, cost-effective, and customized warehouse industry PPE solutions.

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