Learn about new standards for high-visibility safety.

The 2009 revision of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) requires anyone working on or alongside any roadway to be compliant with ANSI 107 Class 2 or Class 3 by December 31, 2011. The ANSI 107 is the accepted standard for the design and performance of high-visibility safety apparel set by the American National Standards Institute. For many companies, outfitting employees in the proper high-visibility apparel may seem like an added expense, but it can actually help reduce costs.

Many companies find that the simplest way to meet the high-visibility standard is to provide ANSI 107 Class 2 or Class 3 compliant vests for their workers.  Vests offer compliance and flexibility since they can be worn over an existing winter jacket, T-shirt, sweatshirt or rain suit.  Company logos can be applied to vests for clear employee identification. Vests are also easy to store and distribute.

Other companies choose to forgo vests and instead use clothing that meets the ANSI 107 high-visibility standard.  High-visibility jackets, T-shirts, sweatshirts and even rain suits are being worn in place of traditional work wear.  As with vests, logos can be applied to this apparel for easy company identification.  Some companies even choose to use high-visibility apparel as a reward to recognize a safe jobsite.


Comfort is one the greatest benefits of moving from vests to high-visibility clothing.  T-shirts are lighter and cooler in the summer, and bomber jackets without the additional vest overtop are less restrictive in the winter.  Adding comfort by reducing layers of clothing improves the odds that the high-visibility garments will be worn properly.

Wearing a T-shirt instead of a vest in warm weather conditions also helps eliminate one of the most common mistakes leading to unsafe conditions: an open vest. If the garment is open, it cannot provide the 360-degree conspicuity necessary to keep a worker safe from all angles.  This also pertains to any other garment that has a front closure.

Another common mistake is the belief that any high-visibility vest with reflective tape is sufficient to meet the requirements and keep workers safe.  Check the label to ensure it reads, “ANSI 107-2010 Class 2 or 3.”  Garment labels must include a garment pictogram and identify the standard and class of the garment along with the performance level of the reflective tape. All reputable manufacturers have the required third-party testing of the vests’ materials, which can be provided to a customer.

Finally, regardless of the type of high-visibility garment, proper maintenance is critical.  All garments get dirty and fade over time and should be cleaned on a regular basis.  Garments that have been left in the back window of a truck for a year or are covered with tar and dirt provide little safety to the wearer.  Follow the care instructions that come with the garment, and replace it when it can no longer be cleaned effectively.

While all of the options mentioned cost money, they actually contribute to reducing lost man-hours, lowering insurance premiums, preventing fines and most importantly, saving lives.

Construction Business Owner, February 2011