High Visibility Clothing: Types & its Performance Classes
High visibility (Hi-Vis) clothing is apparel that has fluorescent/highly reflective elements. All these elements make the most of any available light source, which helps the workers wearing this clothing item to be visible against any background & in any conditions, including low light & even darkness.
Ensuring your employees have the right Hi-Vis clothing they need for their unique roles doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all solution. These requirements can vary depending upon its types & performance class.
Hi-Vis clothing standards established by The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) helps safety directors in any industry select the right high visibility safety vest for their team.
In this article, we will walk through the types & high visibility clothing performance class.
Types of High Visibility Clothing
The three types of HI-Vis clothing corresponding to the several types of worksite environments are:
Type O, or Off-Road
It is defined as Hi-Vis clothing that provides daytime & nighttime visual conspicuity enhancement for workers working in occupational environments. The working environment involves hazards from moving vehicles, equipment & machinery, but it does not include exposure to traffic on public access highway or rights-of-way or roadway temporary traffic control (TTC) zones.
Types of workers who need Type O hi-vis clothing includes:
- Workers responsible for outdoor maintenance & cart collection in parking lots
- Workers working in warehouses or factories where they work directly with equipment traffic
- Workers in oil & gas industry locations where visibility is a concern
Type R, or Roadway
This type of Hi-Vis clothing “provides daytime & night time visual conspicuity enhancement for workers working in occupational environments that include exposure to traffic (where vehicles use the highway for travel purposes) from public access highway rights-of-way, or the roadway TTC zones or from work vehicles & construction equipment within the roadway TTC zone.”
Types of workers who need Type R Hi-Vis clothing includes:
- Road construction workers
- Airport ground crew members
- Crossing guards
- Towing operators
- Parking & toll workers
Type P, or Public Safety
This type of Hi-Vis clothing “provides daytime & nighttime visual conspicuity enhancement for emergency & incident responders & law enforcement personnel working in occupational environments. These work environments include exposure to traffic (where vehicles use the highway for travel purposes) from public access highway rights-of-way or roadway TTC zones, or from work vehicles & construction equipment within the roadway TTC zone or from equipment & vehicles; within the activity area.”
Type P high visibility safety clothing is a crucial element of protective clothing for first responders who may encounter multiple hazardous sources while performing their jobs.
Workers who need Type P Hi-Vis clothing includes:
- Emergency medical response personnel
- Law enforcement officers
Performance Classes of High Visibility Clothing
In addition to the types of Hi-Vis clothing, ANSI/ISEA 107-2020 also details four performance classes this clothing. Each of these performance classes has specific minimum design requirements specifying the background materials, performance materials, reflective elements, and size of reflective elements used in the Hi-Vis clothing.
The four performance classes of Hi-Vis clothing are:
Performance Class 1
This is the lowest level. Hi-Vis clothing in this performance class provides a minimum amount of high visibility elements that enable workers to stand out visually from a non-complex work environment. Performance Class 1 Hi-Vis clothing is only appropriate for Type O or off-road environments.
Performance Class 2
This performance class has an additional amount of high visibility material which provides better visibility for your workers. Performance Class 2 Hi-Vis clothing is the minimum level of protection for workers that are exposed to roadway or Type R environments.
Performance Class 3
This performance class provides an even higher percentage of high-visibility material than the above two. Performance class 3 Hi-Vis clothing increases the visibility of a worker’s entire body in extremely complex work environments. Examples of performance class 3 design elements typically include requirements on the placement of fluorescent backgrounds along with reflective & combined performance materials on the workers’ sleeves & pant legs.
Supplemental Class E
The Supplemental Class E Hi-Vis clothing is used for increasing the visibility of workers, and it must always be used with other Hi-Vis clothing. However, class E clothing on its own does not need to meet the ANSI safety standards. This Hi-Vis clothing increases the visibility of the lower body & can be used in combination with Performance Class 2 clothing to reach a combined Performance class 3 visibility level or in combination with Class 3 Hi-Vis clothing to increase worker visibility even further.
High visibility safety clothing is a powerful part of your workers’ safety plan. Keeping your workers visible while they are working can prevent accidents before they happen; thus, ensure a safe & well-functioning team. Make sure that you choose the right Hi-Vis clothing type that will protect your workers & ensure that you’re meeting all of the safety standards that impact your industry.