It's difficult to believe that high visibility clothing first became available in 1999, despite the fact that the Occupational safety and health Administration (OSHA), was established in 1971. The standard came out of a collaborative effort between the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA). The ANSI/ISEA Standard 107-1999 for hi-vis clothes was the first standard to address the design, performance requirements and use.
ISEA and ANSI cooperate to ensure that equipment and workplace apparel are of the best quality to enhance safety and efficiency in hazardous work environments. One area of concern that is closely monitored by these groups is personal protective equipment (PPE), including high-visibility apparel. You want garments that conform to the ANSI/ISEA 107 standard when looking for high-visibility clothing for your employees and yourself.
ANSI and ISEA Organizations
The standard was developed by ANSI and the ISEA. To comprehend the specifications of these organisations it is helpful to know them.
- American National Standard Institute (ANSI) is a not-for-profit organization that helps strengthen voluntary consensus standards throughout the U.S. Since more than 100 years, ANSI has been providing standardizations created alongside experts from the industry as well as government, consumer groups and businesses. These standards are essential for ensuring high-level safety at the worksite, by encouraging uniform, consistent production of certain goods.
- The International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) is an American trade association, is comprised of companies that manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as safety clothing. ISEA was founded in 1993 and has established high standards for the manufacturing of high-visibility apparel. Today, it is comprised of more than 100 companies, many of which are included in our list of suppliers.
The ANSI/ISEA Standards
The ANSI/ISEA 107 standards are the national standard on high visibility safety attire (HVSA) as well accessories. These requirements refer to the garment’s background material as well as retroreflective fabric. Items must be tested in an accredited laboratory before they are considered ANSI/ISEA 107 conforming. A garment must meet three requirements in order to be compliant with the ANSI 107 standard.
- The high visibility. A high-visibility fabric must be used for the base fabric. It doesn't matter if it is high visibility yellow-green or orange-red. The fabric must also be fluorescent, as this standard calls them. These fabrics have special pigments that brighten them so they stand out against the background. These pigments increase visibility for those who work in low-lit areas or at night. All apparel rated at this level, regardless of its performance class, should be fluorescent in some way.
- The reflectivity. It must be covered with reflective tape, or striping. Reflective striping improves visibility in low-light situations, such as dawn and dusk. Because it returns light to the source, reflective striping is particularly important for those working on roads. A driver shining his headlights towards a worker will notice that it is brighter than if he uses the fluorescent material to illuminate their vehicle. Although fluorescent material provides visibility in low-light conditions, reflective material significantly increases visibility at dawn and dusk.
- The certification. One of the unique things about all ANSI/ISEA 107 products is the fact that it must be certified by a laboratory. Each model must have a Declaration of Conformity from the manufacturer. This allows manufacturers to make sure that their clothing does not meet the standard by labeling it incorrectly.
Other Important Factors
It also addresses things such as the placement of retroreflective material, how much material is required for each class (more below), and garment labeling. The two most important aspects are that garments are highly visible using fluorescent fabrics and have reflective tape.
Types and Performance Classes of ANSI 107
2015 was the year that ANSI/ISEA 107 -2010 standard for High Visibility Safety Apparels (HVSA), and ANSI/ISEA 207 -2011 American National Standard For High Visibility Public Safety Vests (ANSI/ISEA 207 -2011) were combined by ISEA to create ANSI/ISEA 107 -2015. A new classification system was required for the 2015 version to ensure that different garment types are suitable for different work environments.
These types and performance classes include minimal high visibility (Class 1) through exceptionally high visibility (3 and 4). There are three factors that can be used to determine which class you belong: the background material amount in square inches, the reflective material amount in square inches, and the minimum reflective material width (in inches). For greater safety and visibility, more reflective material is better. The current types of reflective materials and the performance class are:
Off-Road (Type O)
ANSI/ISEA 107 types O garments are the lowest-visibility items that can be approved under this standard. They are nevertheless high visibility safety attire. They are designed to be worn in an off-road environment by workers not situated near traffic or temporary control zones. Class 1 is always the off-road category. This refers to the lowest level permissible for apparel approved to that standard.
Roadway and Temporary Traffic Control (Type R)
Type R is the next level of ANSI type. It is designed for workers who are on-road, near traffic or have complex backgrounds. Type R clothing should be worn by those who are exposed in traffic control zones and public rights-of way. Road construction flaggers are among the workers who may wear this type. These garments could be classified either in Class 2 or 3.
Do You Really Need Hi-Vis Apparel?
You've seen that it can be daunting to understand the requirements of high visibility clothing, especially if this is your first time using safety apparel. Many people are asking us the same question: Are we required to wear ANSI compliant clothing? The short answer to this question is "Yes".
It keeps you safe.
The main reason you should prioritize standardizing your clothing is to keep your team safe from workplace hazards like moving vehicles or other struck-by hazards. Your company's liability and turnover will be protected if your crew is kept out of harm's path. Your company logo can be imprinted on workwear to increase safety and identification.
It keeps you compliant.
Although the ANSI 107 Standard is voluntary, it can help ensure your workforce is in compliance with OSHA’s position regarding high-visibility clothing. Workers in highway work zones are required to wear high visibility clothing according to the OSH Act section 5(a),(1). OSHA's Standards Interpretation provides additional information.
You should dress appropriately for each season when selecting high visibility apparel. Comfort is the most important factor in ensuring that workers adhere to their required PPE. They will find a million reasons to not wear their PPE if they feel uncomfortable. They will be more likely to wear HiVis work apparel in each season if they have the right HiVis clothing.