The revision in 2010 was primarily a clarification of intent on the part of ANSI. The three garment classes were to be based upon the wearer’s activities and determined by the total square inches of florescent background materials and the reflective materials. The addition of headwear to the list of items covered and the inclusion of logos were reviewed. Distinctions between woven and knitted background materials rounded out the revision.
- Class I – Apparel for use in activities that permit the wearer’s full and undivided attention to approaching traffic. There is ample separation of workers from traffic. Example – parking lot attendants
- Class II – Apparel for use in activities where greater visibility is necessary during inclement weather or in work environments higher risks. Workers who perform tasks that divert their attention from approaching traffic or those with proximity to passing vehicles require a minimum of Class II. Example: Railway worker.
- Class III – Apparel for the highest level of visibility for workers facing serious hazards and/or high task loads that require attention away from their work. Garments cover more of the body, such as arms and legs to differentiate the worker from inanimate objects such as cones. Example: highway construction or flagger.
Many companies favor the professional appearance and the brand identity of adding logos. Adding titles, training levels, safety award designations etc can improve morale. A decrease in theft/shrinkage has been associated with personalizing the apparel. A note of caution – the logo size must take into account the area of background material necessary for safety and compliance. Too large a logo on smaller items (i.e. a vest) may make the garment non-compliant to standards.
Recommendations surrounding the speed of traffic, the complexity of the work environments and the worker’s ability to focus should all be taken into account. Each company must have a “competent person” (often the Safety Director or Manager) make this determination. A risk assessment should be performed to answer this question – or the company may select to default to Class III for all of their high visibility needs as a precaution.
Everyone loves the feel of cotton tees, and many of us have experienced bad polyester. Poor quality polyester is very heavy, with no wicking characteristics to pull moisture away from the body. The last few years have had an explosion of high quality performance fabrics for athletes. Companies such as Nike® and Under Armour® have revolutionized how we see polyester. These same improvements make polyester a great option for ANSI compliant tees and other work wear. For cotton garments, a sign of quality was a heavy feel (i.e. Beefy Tees®) – often 6.2 ounces. For polyester garments, the inverse is true, with leading manufacturers producing micromesh garments as light as 3.7 ounces.
Lime is by far the preferred color for ANSI wearers. This is due to multiple factors.
- Easier to see- April 2000 issue of Utility Safety reports lime color provides better visibility in a cluttered work zone. Lime is seen more clearly and more brightly than the orange. Red/green colorblind individuals see orange as black in sodium light (roadway conditions).
- Orange is in uses for barricades and other inanimate objects. At low visibility, is preferred to differentiate the worker from his backdrop.
- Penal system has selected orange – road crews do not want to be confused with a prison work crew.
ANSI has approved 3 specific florescent colors for use – lime-yellow, orange and red. In the United States, the lime-yellow and orange are available. The red is primarily a European offering.
No. The standards for ANSI 107-2010 require a compliant background material of florescent lime or orange. The requirements to dye to the florescent color are rigorous. The natural fibers of cotton will not hold the dye initially, and quickly wash right out. Mills do manufacture a 50/50 (cotton to polyester ratio) that is often named “safety green” or “safety orange”. These garments will not meet the ANSI requirements, even with the addition of the appropriate retroreflective materials.
The life of the ANSI apparel can be extended by handling the garments with care. Do not dry clean. You can machine wash the garment on gentle in cold or warm water with traditional laundry detergent. Fabric softeners and bleach will harm the apparel. Turning the garment inside out will lengthen the life of the reflective striping. Best drying method is to line dry.
The reflective materials in use generally fall into 2 categories – open cell / glass bead, or closed cell / prismatic products. On garments, the open cell/ glass bead product is the most common. An example would be the 3M™ Scotchlite™ Materials. Glass bead is actually very small pieces of glass captured in an adhesive layer.