Wearing a Hi-Vis Safety Vest Is a Bright Idea

By wearing a hi-vis traffic vest, workers can ensure that they are visible to drivers and other motorists and reduce the risk of workplace accidents.

hi-vis safety vest worker


Wearing a hi-vis safety vest is an important precaution to take when working in or near high-traffic areas or construction. The benefits of wearing a hi-vis traffic vest include improved visibility, increased safety and improved communication between workers and drivers. Hi-vis traffic vests can also help workers be aware of their surroundings and stay alert while on the job. Traffic vests are generally not flame-resistant, but will help you stay safe.


Below we’ve detailed some useful information about the hi-vis safety vest, the ANSI/ISEA standard, and other things to consider when working in hazardous traffic work zones.


Common Hi-Vis Safety Vest FAQs

How common are traffic-related workplace fatalities?

From 2003-2020, 2,222 workers lost their lives at road construction sites – an average of 123 per year. Over the 10 years from 2011-2020, Texas ranked as the state with the most worker deaths at road construction sites (143), followed by Florida (99), Pennsylvania (60), Indiana (52), Illinois (51), California (49) and Tennessee (49).


By wearing a traffic safety vest, workers can ensure that they are visible to drivers and other motorists and reduce the risk of workplace accidents and injuries.


How well can others see me?

One thing to keep in mind is the amount of hi-vis material covering your apparel. The difference between Class 2 and Class 3 hi-vis wear is that Class 3 simply has more background material and reflective striping than Class 2. For safety reasons, many safety professionals have made it standard to outfit their workers in Class 3 garments.


While we see these products primarily being used on construction projects, they are continuing to be found beneficial in the factory and warehouse settings. These bright colors with retroreflective material help even more when it is dawn, dusk, or night; when bright colors might not be able to be seen as easily (for example, a headlight will reflect the light back off the retro-reflective striping on your hi-vis traffic vest).


Related: Check out our guide on how to select your hi-vis rain jacket and stay safe and visible during your tasks and applications.


What are the three classes of the ANSI/ISEA 109-2020 standard for hi-vis safety vests?

OSHA has adopted the ANSI/ISEA 109-2020 standard (High Visibility Safety Apparel and Headwear) for employee use in certain workplace situations.


Class 1 Hi-Vis Safety Vests are used when work permits undivided attention to traffic and there is ample separation between worker and motor vehicles. Use them when backgrounds are not complex and vehicle/equipment speeds do not exceed 25 mph. This is referred to as a Type O (off-road) garment.

  • Typical users: parking attendants and workers on sidewalks


Class 2 Hi-Vis Safety Vests are for work in areas with complex backgrounds. Workers’ attention may be diverted from approaching traffic or the worker is in closer proximity to traffic. Use them when traffic speeds are over 25 mph. Class 2 hi-vis safety vests have more retroreflective material than Class 1 traffic vests and have a Type R (Roadway) on the tag.

  • Typical users: roadway construction workers, utility workers and survey crews


Class 3 Hi-Vis Safety Vests are an ideal choice for workers who are exposed to high-speed traffic and/or conditions where visibility of workers may be reduced. They are also used in conditions where equipment operators perform tasks near pedestrian workers. Worker must be conspicuous through a full range of body motions at a minimum of 1,280 feet and identifiable as a person. 


Class 3 hi-vis traffic vests have more background and retroreflective material than a Class 2 safety vest and would also receive a Type R (Roadway) rating on the tag, similar to a Class 2 safety vest. In many cases, Class 3 hi-vis safety vests have sleeves.

  • Typical users: flaggers, roadway construction workers, utility workers, survey crews and emergency responders


Related: ANSI standards are important for staying protected for eyes, too. Read one of our recent articles about the ANSI eye protection standard and see why nemesis glasses may be right for you.


What color should my hi-vis safety vest be?

If workers are working around orange barrels or cones, you may want to consider equipping them with lime hi-vis traffic vests (or vice versa if they are working around lime-colored products). This ensures workers stand out from cones and barrels. Vests are also produced with both lime and orange hi-vis colors. This can be a good option depending on the type of work environment. 


Can I purchase a hi-vis safety vest from Wesco Safety?

Yes. We are pleased to offer a wide selection of affordably priced hi-vis traffic vests.


Direct Safety® Type R Class 2 Solid Traffic Vest


Vests are a safe choice for road construction crews, utility workers, surveyors, and more. Vests offer 2" reflective tape, an inside front pocket, two outside pockets, two mic tabs and a hook-and-loop front closure.


Direct Safety® Type R Class 2 Mesh Two-Tone Traffic Vest


For great visibility in daytime or nighttime conditions, choose these polyester mesh vests. Vests feature 2" reflective tape with 4-1/2" contrasting color. Vests also offer a zipper closure, one inside pocket and two mic tabs.


Direct Safety® Type R Class 3 Mesh Traffic Vest


Stand out from the crowd on the road work, utility or construction crews with this brightly colored vest. Vest is constructed of ANSI-certified polyester mesh with 2" ANSI-certified tape, a hook-and-loop closure, two mic tabs and one inside pocket.


Ergodyne® Glowear® 8330Z Type R Class 3 Two-Tone Traffic Vest


The polyester mesh vest features 2" ANSI-compliant reflective tape set on a 3.5" contrasting color background. Vest features a zipper closure, One inside pocket and one mic tab.


Our Safety Support Team is always available to discuss your hi-vis workplace applications and to help you choose the right clothing to keep your workforce protected.





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