When is high visibility clothing required? High-visibility apparel such as ANSI class-three shirts and other reflective safety clothing is usually not required in situations where the individual is not in danger from road traffic exposure. For example, workers such as parking lot attendants and warehouse workers may not be required by law to wear reflective vests or shirts, but someone working on a road repair crew or on a construction site will be required to wear these types of clothing. Some worksites are exempt from the requirement for safety garments; however, wearing the garment makes workers more visible and less likely to be hit by passing vehicles or other workers. Employers should then take the time to carefully assess their employees’ risk of exposure so that they can make the determination as to the necessity of these safety protocols. When you or your crew are required by law to wear a high-visibility garment, OSHA rules and regulations require that the colors used on the item must contrast with the dominant colors on the work site. So a yellow or orange vest is good in a wooded area, but might not be as good as green or some other color in a setting with lots of browns in the background. The garments must also have reflective areas on all sides that can reflect light for at least 1,000 feet in the dark. OSHA and other safety guidelines dictate the requirements needed for safety apparel used on work sites. Some OSHA standards state that this safety apparel is to consist of background material, retroreflective material, and combined-performance material. These different materials are defined in the following way for ANSI class-three shirts and other reflective safety apparel standards:

  • Background material is fluorescent for easy visualization but do not take care of the requirement for retroreflective material.
  • Retroflective material is the reflective bands often seen on work-site safety apparel that shines light back in the dark.
  • Combined-performance material is material that combines features of both previously mentioned material types and is counted toward the minimum area needed for the basic background materials.