Supplying your workers with high-visibility safety apparel is crucial for reducing the number of accidents and injuries that occur within industrial workplaces and other locations that contain hazards. When working in low-light conditions or around heavy machinery, workers can easily go unnoticed and find themselves in a dangerous situation.
That’s why protective gear is essential for workers to stay safe. However, you need to understand the national standards set in place for effective high-visibility clothing to ensure you provide them with the right safety apparel. Here’s everything you need to know about ANSI 107.
What Is ANSI 107?
ANSI 107, or rather, the ANSI/ISEA 107 American National Standard for High-Visibility Safety Apparel and Accessories, is a standard that provides guidelines with practical instructions. These instructions help employers provide reflective materials and design the best garments to best enhance worker visibility. The ANSI 107 standard doesn’t have a single edict, however. Rather, there are three performance classes of garments that identify themselves based on expected use settings and work activities that you’ll perform with them.
When searching for garments that meet such standards, you will be relieved to know that manufacturers have to label any garments that meet ANSI 107 standards. However, you should note that only Class 2 and Class 3 ANSI 107 garments meet the standards necessary for working on federal highways.
Federal Highway Worker Visibility Rule
In addition to ANSI 107, you should also keep the Federal Highway Worker Visibility Rule (23 CFR Sec. 634) in mind. You must follow this rule if you work on or near federal highways or public access roadways. OSHA inspectors enforce this rule, so following ANSI 107 standards will ensure your worksite meets OSHA standards for visibility and worker safety.
The Three ANSI Classes
As mentioned previously, there are three classes of garments that meet ANSI 107 standards. These classes are Off-Road (Type O), Roadway and Temporary Traffic Control (Type R), and Public Safety Activities (Type P).
ANSI Type O Class 1 offers the minimum amount of high-visibility materials to differentiate workers from non-complex work environments. As such, Class 1 is appropriate only for off-road work where nylon colors and reflective materials are uncommon, and therefore, someone wearing the materials would naturally stand out that much more. Workers also don’t have to wear reflective material to distinguish and define the entire human figure but rather make a worker’s presence known.
ANSI Type R and P Class 2 is the minimum level of protection necessary for workers exposed to roadways and temporary traffic control zones. This means that the reflective material used defines the human form for a clearer distinction of individual workers.
ANSI Type R and P Class 3 provides the most visibility within complex work environments that may include a full range of movement that would further obscure the distinct movements of workers onsite. Class 3 naturally has a higher minimum of reflective materials and requires that workers have reflective garments with sleeves. Sometimes it even includes reflective pants. Wearing a reflective vest is not enough for OSHA to consider it Class 3.
ANSI Class E, while not technically a class of high-visibility garment, refers to high-visibility garments that don’t meet the requirements of a standard when worn alone. Instead, you have to wear them with Class 2 or 3 garments as a complete set. The overall ensemble of reflective gear will then fall under Class 3.
What Is Enhanced Visibility?
Two terms you’ll often hear regarding visibility gear are “high-visibility” and “enhanced visibility.” The important thing to remember is that these two terms aren’t interchangeable, nor do they refer to the same thing. Enhanced visibility refers to a garment of any color that has had retro-reflecting striping added to it in any configuration. These enhanced visibility garments aren’t typically ANSI compliant and are suitable only for workers in low-risk environments. So while it’s not ANSI compliant, enhanced visibility can still provide extra security for workers.
This also means that you can’t retroactively fit an existing uniform program with retro-reflective materials. While retro-reflectivity may help in the darkness, ANSI 107 standards require that workers must wear high-visibility PPE apparel during daylight hours as well. Therefore, ANSI 107 compliant garments must have a background that is lime green, orange, or red because those colors are fluorescent. Enhanced visibility apparel is still useful for non-complex working environments, such as off-road worksites, so even if your goal isn’t to become ANSI 107 compliant, you should still consider adding reflectivity to your existing uniform programs.
Is ANSI 107 Mandated by OSHA?
You should know that ANSI 107 is a voluntary consensus standard rather than a federally enforced standard. However, don’t think that this means everything you need to know about ANSI 107 is moot, as employers are still responsible for the safety of their employees. Therefore, it’s in their best interest to provide their employees with the best high-visibility gear. You can use ANSI 107 gear to comply with federal regulations when properly applied. Or you can use them voluntarily in response to hazards possibly not covered by federal regulations.
Acquiring High-Visibility Garments
Many employers may wonder if they can acquire high-visibility garments from their local discount retailer. While it’s possible to find high-visibility PPE gear from a local retailer, remember that retro-reflective and background safety need certification to verify its performance as PPE. Because the reliability of local discount retailers may be shaky, it’s often best to find a reputable safety supplier, like Hi Vis Safety, for consistent quality that meets ANSI 107 standards.
Difference Between ANSI 107 and CSA Z96
Another standard you might encounter is one created by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) called the CSA Z96 standard. CSA based this standard on ANSI 107 high-visibility safety apparel. As a result, the test methods in photometric and retro-reflective performance are similar, and you may think that they are interchangeable. However, there are large differences regarding the configuration of retro-reflective material and garment design. Therefore, CSA Z96 doesn’t necessarily comply with ANSI 107 and vice versa.