ANSI Soon to Publish Revised Standard for High-Visibility Safety Apparel and Headwear

Oct. 11, 2004
Five years ago, the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) published the first American National Standard – ANSI/ISEA 107-19999 – for high-visibility safety apparel, and a revised standard is right around the corner.

Garments complying with ANSI/ISEA 107-1999 quickly became widely accepted as the best way to protect workers against hazards of low visibility, and to enhance the visibility of workers who are exposed to struck-by hazards.

On Sept. 15, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) approved a revised edition of the standard, ANSI/ISEA 107-2004. Written by the ISEA High Visibility Products Group, in cooperation with employers and workers, test labs and material suppliers, safety professionals, and federal, state and local authorities, the revised standard is a guide for the design, performance specifications and use of high-visibility and reflective apparel including vests, jackets, bib/jumpsuit coveralls, trousers and harnesses. Garments that meet the standard provide users with a high level of conspicuity through the use of combined fluorescent and retroreflective materials.

The revised version of the standard expands the product coverage to include high-visibility headwear. It also contains additional testing procedures for knitted fabrics used as background material, and eliminates tests from the previous edition that added no value. User guidance has been expanded to provide occupational scenarios and recommended performance classes and additional examples of garment design, and the appendixes now include standard test reports and a compliance certificate.

ANSI/ISEA 107 was developed by ISEA in response to concerns that American workers who are exposed to low visibility hazards are not wearing appropriate visibility-enhancing apparel.

"There's been a lot of progress since the standard first appeared," says ISEA Technical Projects Coordinator Cristine Fargo. "People driving through highway workzones can immediately see the advances in product design - the workers are more visible."

Janice Bradley, ISEA's technical director, notes the revision doesn't change the basic requirements of the standard such as garment dimensions, color or retroreflective performance, with the exception of clearly prohibiting any kind of sleeveless garment to be labeled Class 3 when worn alone. "The standard has been expanded to keep up with the state of the art in fabrics technology and design, and now provides users with documentation that a garment meets all the requirements of the standard," she explains.

The standard establishes three performance classes for high-visibility safety apparel based on the wearer's activities, and determined by the total area of background and reflective materials used.

To comply with ANSI/ISEA 107-2004, a garment's background material, and retroreflective or combined-performance material, must be tested and certified by an independent, accredited third-party laboratory. The manufacturer of the finished item then verifies that the garment or headwear meets all the requirements of the standard, and provides a certificate of compliance for each model.

All references to classes of garments and their use in specific environments based on vehicle speeds has been removed. This version of the standard emphasizes that garment selection should be based on the color and complexity of the work environment, the task load of the worker, separation of the worker from moving equipment and vehicles, and other work environment variables. Occupational scenarios in an appendix to the standard provide guidance for users.

ANSI/ISEA107-2004, American National Standard for High-Visibility Safety Apparel and Headwear, will be available in early October 2004 and can be purchased from ISEA for $60 a copy.

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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