Understanding the Importance of High Visibility FR Clothing & its Performance Class
When you are at your worksite, every precaution must be taken to ensure your & others’ safety. While proper training & hazard assessments go a long way in this context, there are still chances of accidents & certain unavoidable hazards. Thus, working in a dangerous work environment makes it imperative to take all the necessary precautions to ensure everyones’ safety.
Perhaps most risky are the jobs where workers face several kinds of hazards all at once. For instance, a worker working in a position that involves the risk of flash & fire with poor visibility is prone to multiple dangers. It’s not possible for anyone to look over their shoulders for oncoming motor vehicles while welding or fixing an electrical wire. Instead, these workers need a unique combination of flame-resistant (FR) high-visibility protective clothing that can serve both purposes.
Read on to understand the importance of hi-vis flame resistant clothing and its performance class.
Importance of Hi-Visibility FR Clothing
People working in an environment such as utility and oil & gas industries where there’s a risk of fire and explosion need to follow FR clothing norms to ensure workers’ safety. Flame-resistant clothing is vital as it effectively reduces the risk of injury from flash fire, arc flash, and open flame hazards. Flame-resistant clothing is specifically designed to works as a self-extinguisher when exposed to flame, reducing the extent of burns & providing workers a chance to escape. The material of this clothing doesn’t melt & provides thermal insulation from heat. While no clothing guarantees being entirely fireproof, FR clothing drastically cuts down on the number & severity of burn injuries.
Moreover, a worker working in an environment that involves the risk of flash or fire with potential low-light conditions is exposed to the added danger of not being visible. That’s why high-visibility clothing is a must for many jobs. High-visibility FR clothing is made of brightly colored fabrics & reflective materials, which make the wearer more visible in all conditions and inclement weather. This, in turn, prevents many major accidents. Wearing FR clothing that comes with high visibility, along with other safety precautions & training, prevents many severe injuries and deaths every year.
The American National Standard Institute (ANSI) has established the ANSI/ISEA 107 standard, which provides industries with performance guidance around high-vis safety apparel. Below we have mentioned the breakdown of the two most popular ANSI high-visibility performance classifications:
There are very limited differences between performance Class 1 and general-purpose safety vests; thus, only the manufacturer rated safety vests starting at Class 2 are elected.
Performance Class 2: This is for workers working in low-light environments & heavy traffic. When traffic exceeds 25 mph & below 50 mph, Class 2 rated safety vests are considered ideal. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes highway/road construction work zones as areas where workers are potentially exposed to the risk of being struck by the vehicles operating near them. A worker working as a flagger, laborer, or survey crew in these areas need to wear a Class 2 rated vest.
Performance Class 3: This is for workers working in dangerous, high traffic areas and in poor light conditions, for example, workers working in snowy conditions on a busy road. A worker is operating in an area where a vehicle travels more than 50 mph need to wear a Class 3 rated safety vest. Most heavy traffic areas, as mentioned in Performance Class 2, should consider wearing a Class 3 safety vest, as an additional reflective material will help to identify other workers better.
One more perk of high-vis clothing is these easily recognizable garments & accessories communicate a certain level of authority in situations where an area has restricted access. Everyone recognizes high-vis gear as work clothing & understands that individuals wearing it are there to do a job, which separates the worker from other passersby.