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ISEA Asks FHWA to Clarify High-Vis Worker Rule

The International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) asked the U.S. Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to formally recognize vests that meet the ANSI/ISEA 207-2006 American National Standard for Public Safety Vests as complying with the provisions of a worker-visibility regulation that takes effect Nov. 24, 2008.

Starting Nov. 24 under FHWA Worker Visibility Rule (23 CFR part 634), all workers in federal-aid highway right-of-ways have to wear clothing that complies with ANSI/ISEA 107-2004 American National Standard for High Visibility Safety Apparel and Headwear, Class 2 or 3. The FHWA already has determined that vests meeting the 207 standard are compatible with vests that meet ANSI/ISEA 107-2004 as cited in the new regulation. However, the absence of a specific citation for the 207 standard is creating confusion among users when selecting their high-visibility garments, according to ISEA.

“We believe that strong public safety justifications exist to additionally recognize vests that meet (the 207 standard) as a compliance option for the public safety industry, and we strongly encourage you to accomplish this in the regulation, or through an official agency interpretive ruling prior to Nov. 24, 2008,” ISEA President Daniel K. Shipp wrote Sept. 29 to Hari Kalla, FHWA Office of Transportation Operations’ Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) team leader.

The public safety community – law enforcement, fire service, emergency medical services – is spending federal grant dollars to purchase vests that meet the ANSI/ISEA 207-2006 standard because these garments provide high-visibility that meets the intention of the regulation, but also have features that allow public safety professionals to perform tasks that are essential to their primary function, Shipp told Kalla.

“For example ANSI/ISEA 207-2006 public safety vests allow for easy access to belt-mounted equipment, have a means for responders to identify their public safety sector and can be designed with tear-away features for the vest to release from the wearer’s body if it becomes entangled or pulled on,” Shipp wrote.

In light of the fact that FHWA already recognizes the ANSI/ISEA 207-2006 standard as being compatible with ANSI/ISEA 107-2004, and has proposed permitting the use of garments that meet either standard when it updates the MUTCD in 2009, Shipp added:

“The time period between the Nov. 24, 2008, effective date of 23CFR634 and the issuance of the revised MUTCD has spawned legitimate confusion and frustration for those seeking to allocate their funding resources by procuring a single high-visibility garment which will best meet their job needs for the next several years … We are urging you to take the needed administrative action to add ANSI/ISEA 207-2006 garments as a compliance option for public safety workers for 23 CFR Part 634.”

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