Road construction crews have a dangerous job. While being around heavy equipment can pose its own risks, the danger actually comes from the vehicles on the road. Road construction often takes place at night, when fewer drivers are on the roads. Lowered visibility combined with high speeds is not a good combination.
Just as risky recreational pursuits have safety clothing, so do construction crews. Fortunately, the safety jackets for construction workers are what is called high visibility clothing. These clothing items are specially made to bring more attention to the worker from even far away. This is necessary because the cars near the work site are often traveling at high speeds.
How Does High Visibility Workwear Keep a Construction Worker Safe?
Unlike the safety gear for recreation activities such as football, rollerblading, or even motorcycle riding, the safety jackets for construction crews do not offer actual protection. There is no padding built into the safety jackets. The benefit has to do of course with visibility.
Safety workwear for construction workers is made of bright colors and/or light reflective panels. The colors are specially chosen for their neon brightness, which draws the eye. This color does not occur in nature, and becomes brighter under lights, such as headlights. Light reflective panels or stripes do a similar job, in that the light from a headlight will bounce off and create an obvious shine. The goal is always to make the drivers on the road notice the workers, even under low visibility conditions.
How Does Someone Determine What Is Safety Wear, And What Is Just Brightly Colored?
While neon colors and light reflective stripes are are part of most safety jackets for construction workers, there are actual rules and regulations for safety workwear. The American National Standards Institute, Inc., or ANSI has distinct categories for safety workwear. The degree of protection required via increased visibility is determined by where the crew members will be working.
For example, there is Off-road, which is Type O, Class One. Safety gear in this category is designed only for jobs that are off of the roadside as the gear offers the wearer minimal visibility. Type R Class Two is for roadside and temporary traffic control jobs, as this gear offers an increase from Type O workwear with an additional level of high visibility techniques. The next category is Type R Class Three, which builds upon Type R Class Two with reflective panels on the sleeves and/or pants as well. The next category, Type E, does not qualify as a high visibility safety garment on its own, but is worn as an additional protective measure when combined with a Type R garment.
High visibility safety workwear is a necessary precaution for roadside construction workers. However, it would be a mistake to assume that any brightly colored safety vest qualifies as a piece of high visibility protection. The ANSI is a great resource to use when determining how to outfit construction crews.