ANSI/ISEA 107-1999 American National Standard for High-Visibility Safety Apparel

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The International Safety Equipment Association

Summary Statement

Describes a voluntary standard, ANSI/ISEA 107-1999, for high-visibility apparel and discusses how to select the proper garment.

A First Line of Defense

 Danger is everywhere when work is being done outdoors.  Cars,  tractor-trailers and trucks race past, often within inches of workers.  Impatient, distracted drivers swerve outside their lanes, rarely slowing down to a safe speed. Visibility is limited for operators of heavy equipment and trucks, while noise makes it difficult for workers to hear approaching vehicles and equipment.

Even the most attentive drivers and equipment operators frequently find it difficult to see workers on foot.  Much work is done at night or when light levels are low at dawn, dusk and during inclement weather.  Visibility problems are the cause for many of the deaths and injuries that happen when workers get hit by vehicles or mobile equipment.  

High-visibility apparel serves as a first line of defense to protect workers against being struck by a vehicle or piece of equipment operated by someone who otherwise would not be able to see them during the day or at night.  

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognizes the value of high-visibility apparel to protect workers, and requires employers to outfit employees with "reflectorized and highly visible materials to enhance worker safety."  And the U.S. Department of Transportation's Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices specifies high-visibility clothing for flaggers, law enforcement officers and others involved in managing workzone traffic.

The International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) and its members share a deep and personal commitment to providing workers the very best in high-visibility apparel.  This booklet provides a one-stop source of information on high-visibility products for those who are responsible for keeping road construction workers out of harm's way, day or night in any light.

Meeting Every Worker Visibility Need

ISEA members lead the way in developing high-visibility apparel to meet the safety needs of every industry.  High-visibility materials can be used in a limitless variety of apparel designs, ranging from vests and coveralls that are fixtures in construction sites, to highly specialized products that meet specific needs.  Working closely with the construction industry, federal and state highway departments, and workers, ISEA and its members create new designs and innovations in high-visibility apparel that optimize worker safety.

Setting the Highest Standard

To ensure maximum quality control in its members' products, ISEA developed the American National Standard for High-Visibility Safety Apparel. 

The standard - ANSI/ISEA 107-1999 -- establishes a set of performance criteria for high-visibility apparel.  The standard defines three garment categories (also known as conspicuity classes), which are based on worker hazards and tasks, complexity of the work environment or background, and vehicular traffic and speed.

Class 1 garments are intended for use in activities that permit the wearer's full and undivided attention to approaching traffic.  There should be ample separation of the worker from traffic, which should be traveling no faster than 25 miles per hour.

Examples of workers who use Class 1apparel:

  • Parking lot attendants;
  • People retrieving shopping carts from parking lots;
  • Workers exposed to warehouse equipment traffic; and
  • Roadside "right of way" or sidewalk maintenance workers.

Class 2 garments are intended for use in activities where greater visibility is necessary during inclement weather conditions or in work environments with risks that exceed those for Class 1.  Garments in this class also cover workers who perform tasks that divert their attention from approaching traffic, or that put them in close proximity to passing vehicles traveling at 25 miles per hour or higher.

Examples of workers who use Class 2 apparel include:

  • Forestry operations;
  • Ship cargo loading operations;
  • Roadway construction, utility and railway workers;
  • Survey crews;
  • School crossing guards;
  • Delivery vehicle drivers;
  • High-volume parking and/or toll gate personnel;
  • Airport baggage handlers/ground crew;
  • Emergency response and law enforcement personnel;
  • Trash collection and recycling operations;
  • Accident site investigators;
  • Railroad inspection and maintenance crews.

Class 3 garments provide the highest level of visibility, and are intended for workers who face serious hazards and often have high task loads that require attention away from their work.  Garments for these workers should provide enhanced visibility to more of the body, such as the arms and legs.

Examples of workers who use Class 3 apparel include:

  • Roadway construction personnel and flaggers;
  • Utility workers;
  • Survey crews; and
  • Emergency response personnel.

Answers to the Most Commonly Asked Questions about ANSI/ISEA 107-1999

Is this a new law?
ANSI/ISEA 107-1999 is a voluntary industry consensus standard. Until the publication of this document, there was no uniform, authoritative guide for the design, performance specifications, and use of high-visibility and reflective apparel in the United States.  It represents what the industry and users view as necessary to adequately protect workers from the hazards associated with low visibility.

Does OSHA know about this?  What is their position?
In its regulation 29 CFR 1926.651(d), OSHA sets forth requirements for workers who are exposed to vehicular traffic.  OSHA states that "employees exposed to public vehicular traffic shall be provided with, and shall wear, warning vests or other suitable garments marked with or made of reflectorized or high-visibility material."  OSHA refers to ANSI/ISEA 107-1999 as a way for employers to comply with the requirement to provide enhanced visibility garments.

In addition, under the OSHA General Duty Clause (29 CFR 1903.1), OSHA requires that every employer furnish "employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm..."

How do I know what conspicuity class of garment I need?
The standard includes some examples of the conditions that each class may require.  However, the employer should evaluate the work conditions, hazards and environment to determine what class is appropriate for an individual worker.

Does the standard only permit the designs that are provided in the appendix of the standard?
No.  The designs provided in the appendix of the standard are only examples.  There may be many innovative designs that meet the standard and are different from the limited examples in the appendix.  Section 5.2.1 of the standard states the only design requirements of the standard.

Will the standard be revised and if so, when?
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) accredits ISEA as a standards-drafting organization.  Therefore, ISEA follows ANSI procedures for developing and revising standards.  ANSI requires that some action - revision, reaffirmation or withdrawal - be taken on ANSI standards every five years.  ISEA anticipates that a revision will be ready to approve by the five-year date, which is June 1, 2004.

Do open-weave or mesh fabrics meet the background materials requirements of the standard?
Because the performance of the garment is greatly affected by what the user wears under it, it may be difficult for open-weave or mesh fabrics to meet the standard for Class 2 and 3 garments.  However, for Class 1 garments, mesh when combined with 310 square inches of combined performance materials will meet the 107 standard.

The designation of the standard is ANSI/ISEA 107-1999.  I have heard of ANSI standards but what is ISEA's role in this standard?
ISEA is the national trade association for suppliers of safety and personal protective equipment.  ISEA is dedicated to protecting the health and safety of all workers through the development of workplace standards and the education of users on safe work practices and exposure prevention.  ISEA is the secretariat of the standard, which means that it develops and publishes the standard.  As the secretariat, all requests for interpretation of the standard are referred to ISEA.

My workers are only out during the day/night.  Why do I need so much background/retro-reflective materials that affect the cost of the garments?
Great variability in illumination conditions exists in daytime or nighttime due to weather, daylight savings time etc.  It is also common practice for workers to work overtime - especially in the construction trades, where project delays may necessitate additional hours of work.  It would not have been appropriate to develop a national standard that did not protect workers in all possible lighting conditions, day or night. 

I have only found larger sized garments that meet the standard.  I have smaller workers that need appropriately fitting garments to work safe.  Is this being addressed?
It is not the intention of the standard to suggest the use of ill-fitting or improperly sized garments or accessories.  When performing a hazard assessment, the need for visibility must be considered along with other hazards such as working around moving equipment or machinery that may result in catching or snagging of loose garments.  Different garment types or designs may be necessary for smaller workers to achieve the overall area requirements of the standard.

ANSI/ISEA 107-1999 can be purchased directly from ISEA.