High-Vis Apparel

Different Types of Safety Vests?

According to Associated General Contractors of America nearly half of all highway construction zones have been hit by oncoming traffic. That’s an alarming statistic when you consider that twenty percent of our roads are under construction. In an effort to improve highway worker safety, The Federal Highway Administration now requires “All workers who are exposed either to traffic (vehicles using the highway for purposes of travel) or to construction equipment within the work area shall wear high-visibility safety apparel.”—Worker Visibility Final Rule-23 CFR 634-Worker Safety.

OSHA stepped up to the plate for worker safety too by requiring high visibility clothing to be worn in two specific circumstances. The first instance is when workers are performing the role of flagging (29 CFR 1926.201(1)). The second is when workers are exposed to public vehicular traffic in the vicinity of excavations (29 CFR 1926.651(d)). However, under the General Duty Clause, other construction workers in highway or road construction work zones require similar protection.

What Is High-Visibility Safety Apparel?

The Worker Visibility Rule defines high visibility safety apparel as “personal protective safety clothing that is intended to provide conspicuity.” Safety clothing, generally safety vests, must follow the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards. As an aid in selecting the appropriate safety vests, “high visibility classes” are further broken down and include both worker hazards and tasks. The standards also consider complexity of the work environment or background, vehicular traffic and vehicle speed.

What Are The Safety Vest Classes?

ANSI Class 1 Safety Vest Requirements

Class 1 Safety Vests are intended for those whose work permits undivided attention to traffic and there is ample separation between worker and motor vehicles. The background is not complex and vehicle or equipment speeds do not exceed 25 miles per hour. (Examples: parking attendants, warehouse workers, workers on sidewalks). Please note that ANSI/ ISEA 107 Class 1 garments do not provide compliance with the 2009 MUTCD highway work regulations.

ANSI Class 1 Safety Vest

ANSI Class 1 Safety Vest

ANSI Class 2 Safety Vest Requirements

The Class 2 Safety Vests are intended for use in inclement weather and/or areas with complex backgrounds. Worker’s attention may be diverted from the approaching traffic or the worker is in closer proximity to oncoming traffic. Vehicles and equipment travel at speeds greater than those specified for Class 1. (Examples include: roadway construction workers, utility workers, and survey crews.)

Class 2 Safety Vests Should:

  • Provide increased visibility during inclement weather conditions
  • Create contrast against complex backgrounds
  • Increase visibility for operators traveling faster than 25 miles per hour
  • Enhance worker visibility when work activities are near vehicle traffic

Class 2 Construction Safety Vest

Class 2 Construction Safety Vest

ANSI Class 3 Safety Vest Requirements

Class 3 Safety Vests are for workers exposed to high-speed traffic and/or conditions where visibility of workers may be reduced. This would include conditions where equipment operators perform tasks near pedestrian workers. Workers must be conspicuous through a full range of body motions at a minimum of 1,280 feet and identifiable as a person. (Examples include: flaggers, roadway construction workers, utility workers, survey crews, emergency responders).

Class 3 Safety Vests Should:

  • Protect workers exposed to high vehicle speeds and/or reduced sight distances
  • Help mitigate risk when workers and vehicle operators have high task loads that clearly place workers in danger
  • Allow workers the highest visibility through the full range of body motions to ensure they can be identified as people

Class 3 Safety Vest with Pockets

Class 3 Safety Vest with Pockets

The ANSI Class E Ensemble

Though not technically a class, this safety apparel is a combination of Class 2 (or Class 3) safety vest with high visibility jackets, pants, shirts or shorts. The Class 3 ensemble is typically worn when workers must focus all their attention on their work and not traffic. It is not intended to be worn without Performance Class 2 or 3 apparel.

These classes are further broken down into designated environments:

  • Type O (off-road) – Includes off-road and non-roadway use (Class 1). This includes the mining, oil and gas industries.
  • Type R (roadway and temporary traffic control) – Includes roadway and temporary traffic control zones (Class 2 & 3). It also includes workers on public roadways, construction and is required to comply with MUTCD.
  • Type P (public safety activities) – includes targets law enforcement, fire departments, and first responders.

Enviromental Designation Type "O" Type "R" Type "P" Supplemental Items Accessories
Environmental Type Off-Road Roadway Fire, Police, EMS Personnel Pants or Shorts Gloves Arm or Leg Bands Headwear
Performance Class Class 1 Class 2 Class 3 Class 2 Class 3 Class R N/A N/A N/A
Background Material Amount 217 in2 775 in2 1240 in2 450 in2 775 in2 465 in2 10 in2 24 in2 78 in2
Retro-Reflective Amounts 155 in2 310 in2 310 in2 201 in2 310 in2 109 in2 10 in2 24 in2 10 in2
Width Minimums of Retroflective Materials 1 in 1.38 in 2 in 2 in 2 in 2 in 1 in 1 in 1 in

ANSI Safety Vest Colors

When choosing your vest color, consider the work and environment to determine which color will stand out most for daytime use. Choose a color that achieves the highest degree of contrast against the background and any equipment in the work zone. A good example would be working in and around orange-colored work equipment and signage – where fluorescent yellow-green high-visibility vests would work best.

For ANSI Safety Clothing, there are only 3 approved colors

  • Fluorescent Yellow-Green Safety Vests
  • Fluorescent Orange Safety Vests
  • Fluorescent Red Safety Vests

Differences Between Hi-Vis Vests | Reflective Clothing | Visibility Enhanced Apparel

Hi-Vis Clothing – Only garments certified and labeled as ANSI/ISEA 107 and ANSI/ISEA 207, or in some cases certain firefighter standards, meet standard specifications for high visibility personal protective safety apparel in the U.S.

Reflective Clothing - The term enhanced visibility can be used for any garment of any color that has retro-reflective striping added to it in any configuration. These garments are not typically ANSI compliant and are for workers in lower risk environments. These workers can still benefit from the extra security of heightened visibility, particularly in low light conditions.

Visibility Enhanced Apparel - Is any garment in which reflective tape has been added. It can be any type of clothing and is not held to the ANSI standard. Generally, the reflective tape is added to the lower chest and sleeve area. For pants or jeans, it is added to the shin. Enhanced visibility garments are for workers in lower risk areas that seek added visibility.

ANSI Safety Vest Manufactures

  • Egrodyne
  • Occunomix
  • ML Kishigo
  • DeWalt
  • 3M
  • Radians
  • Transportation Safety Apparel


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

The Associated General Contractors of America

National Work Zone Safety Information Clearing House

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

American Road & Transportation Builders Association