Highway-Visibility Apparel

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The International Safety Equipment Association

Summary Statement

Provides data suggesting that wearing visibility apparel is cost effective as well an important safety precaution.
Jan/Feb 2001

Road construction companies pay out some $65 million more for visibility-related injuries than it would cost them to equip all of their visibility-hazard-exposed workers with high-visibility apparel. That is the bottom line for road construction companies, according to figures compiled from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the National Safety Council (NSC), American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), and ISEA.

How so? Start with 574,000 hazard-exposed road construction workers in the private sector (ARTBA). Apply a 20% high-visibility apparel usage rate among road construction workers (ISEA estimate), meaning that 80% (459,200) are not wearing high-visibility apparel. Multiply that number of workers by the cost each year to equip each worker with two $25 high-visibility garments ($50), giving a total cost of $22.96 million to equip with high-visibility apparel all remaining road construction workers.

Now multiply the total number of annual visibility-related injuries in road construction, which is about 2,500 (based on conservative extrapolations from BLS data), by the $35,300 cost per nonfatal motor-vehicle injury (NSC), yielding a total cost for visibility-related injuries in road construction of $88.25 million. Subtract the $22.96 million cost of equipping all unprotected workers from that figure to derive the $65 million more that road construction companies pay out each year for visibility-related injuries.

"Wearing high-visibility apparel will not protect against every potential visibility-related injury or fatality, and we are not suggesting that it would," said ISEA President Dan Shipp. "But this data does suggest that road construction companies are spending a whole lot more to cover the costs of visibility-related injuries each year than they would pay to equip their workers properly and make sure they are wearing their high-visibility apparel." For details on the statistical basis of this cost-benefit analysis, contact ISEA's Joe Walker, (703) 525-1695 or jwalker@safetyequipment.org.