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ANSI Safety Vest and Apparel Requirements - Made Easy

The High Visibility Safety Apparel (HVSA) standards were first introduced in 1999. They were expanded again in 2008/2009 to include the "Class" nomenclature--Class 1, 2, 3. The standard was revised again in 2015 to include the "Type" nomenclature--Type O, R, P. Then again, in 2020, a further revision was put into effect. In this article, we will consolidate these revisions in an easy to understand way and provide guidance on how to comply with them.

What Color Vest?

This is entirely up to you. The two main choices are fluorescent yellow-green and fluorescent orange-red. Choose the color that you think will stand out the most in the environment you are working in.

What "Type" Do You Need?

This is where it can get overly-complicated. We are going to try and make it as simple as possible. Let's define "Type".

"Type" has three designations: "O", "R", and "P". In order they refer to, Occupational Workers, Occupation Workers Roadway, Police/Fire/EMS. The first two, "Type O" and "Type R" will be our focus. They are the most applicable to our customers.

Type "O" is the specific designation for workers who ARE NOT working on roadways. However, they are still working in job sites with moving vehicles or hazards, such as forklifts or moving equipment. In other words, they are at risk for being struck by something. The standard refers to this as a "struck-by hazard".

Type "R" is the specific designation for workers who ARE working on roadways. This is the required designation for any worker who could be exposed to moving vehicle traffic on a roadway. By the way, "Type R" would also be sufficient for any "Type O" application.

What "Class" Do You Need?

Under each "Type", there are "Class" designations. For example, there are High Visibility Safety vests that are "Type R, Class 3".

What are the "Class" designations? These designations are designed to correspond with the level of risk faced for each "Type".

For example, the level of risk for a worker in a warehouse, "Type O", is much lower than the risk for a roadway worker, a "Type R". Therefore, the "Type O" vest will necessitate less material, both reflective and flourescent, to meet the risk involved. As a result, it will have a lower "Class" designation.

Likewise, the level of risk for a roadway worker, "Type R", who works on a interstate is quite a bit more than that of a residential road, also a "Type R". In this case, the interstate worker will require a higher "Class" designation than the residential road worker.

So the "Class" designation helps delineate these differences in risk within each "Type". The higher the risk the more reflective and fluorescent material is required. The three classes used to make these delineations are Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3.

How Does All This Work?

Putting all this data together, it fleshes out like this. "Type O" apparel is easy. It only comes in one "Class"--"Class 1". So any compliant "Type O" apparel, like a vest, will also be "Class 1". So if you have determined that a "Type O" vest is compliant with your application it will be a "Class 1" vest by default. It is as simple as that.

"Type R" apparel for roadway applications comes in two "Classes"--Class 2 and Class 3. Once you've determined that your workers will face roadway risks ("Type R"), you then have to determine if you need "Type R Class 2" or "Type R Class 3" apparel.

How do you make this determination? It all has to do with type of vehicle traffic a worker will face on a roadway.

ANSI Class 2 apparel is for workers who are on roadways with traffic up to 50 mph. In this application, the high visibility apparel would be "Type R, Class 2".

ANSI Class 3 apparel is for workers who are on roadways with traffic over 50 mph and/or where there is inclement weather that limits visibility. So in this application, the high visibility apparel would be "Type R, Class 3".

We offer a great selection of all "Types" and "Classes" of high visibility safety apparel. You can see our selection of ANSI apparel here.

Type O and Class 1 ANSI designationType R and Class 2 and Class 3 ANSI Designation

Why The Different Type and Class Designations?

A question we get all the time is why all the different "Type" and "Class" designations? Why isn't everything "Type R Class 3"? It would make things a lot simpler.

The answer to these questions has to do with money and comfort. Because "Type R Class 3" apparel requires more reflective and fluorescent material it tends to cost more. Additionally, because it covers more of the body (sleeves, for example) it can also be more uncomfortable in hot weather. Workers in "Type O" applications everywhere are grateful that they don't have to wear "Type R Class 3" apparel.

Finally, remember that the ANSI high visibility apparel requirements are in place to keep you and your workers safe. And frankly, this apparel does so at a relatively low cost. Be safe out there.

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