According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, "Work Zone Hazards Workbook," many injuries and fatalities occur as the result of vehicles striking workers. Some accidents involve the crews’ own motorized equipment. To help prevent injuries in work zones, OSHA compiled the "Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices," or MUTCD, which outlines specific procedures that crews should follow and details the types of gear, such as nighttime traffic control safety vests and safety vests with pockets, that workers should wear for function and protection.
Workers who are at risk of injury from traffic or equipment must wear high-visibility traffic control safety vests that meet or exceed the ANSI 107 guidelines. Depending on the degree of risk the workers face, the vests can be class one or two; vests are not included in the definition of class three garments. OSHA delegates the selection of the appropriate garment to a competent agent chosen by the employer. Employers must delegate at least one such person at each work site. The individual must be qualified to identify hazards, both present and potential, and must be authorized to take the measures necessary to correct inadequacies.
OSHA's MUTCD stipulates that ANSI 107 compliant vest must be highly visible and reflective. Others must be able to see the garment from a full 360 degrees even in low light conditions and inclement weather. Class one vests are worn when the worker can devote his complete attention to traffic, which will not approach at speeds in excess of 25 mph.
The background in front of which the worker is standing must not be very complex, and there must be adequate separation between the traffic and the worker. If traffic speeds are greater than 25 mph but less than 50 mph, or the background is more complex, workers should wear class two vests. This class is also needed if the worker cannot devote his full attention to the flow of traffic or must work in areas near moving traffic.
Night reflective vests must be made from a reflective material that is orange, white, bright yellow-green, yellow or silver. Fluorescent hues of the specified colors are permissible. The vest must be visible for a minimum of 1,000 feet. Safety clothing must allow others to recognize that they are seeing a person and it must remain visible regardless of the wearer’s body motions.
The standards also define the amount and placement of the reflective trim that should be used on safety vests. Class one vests must use either reflective trim that is one inch or wider or, if the trim is fluorescent as well as reflective, it should be 2 inches or wider. The vest must contain at least 2.15 yards of 2-inch trim, 3.1 yards if the trim measures 1.372 inches in width or 4.3 yards if 1-inch trim is used. Class two vests can only use reflective trim; 2.8 yards of 2-inch or 4 yards of 1.375-inch trim is required.
One or more bands of trim should appear at least 2 inches from the bottom of the vest and completely encircle the vest. At least 23.25 square inches of reflective trim must appear on both the front and back shoulder areas. If more than one band is used, each band must be separated by 2 inches or more.