The Hidden Meaning of High Visibility Vests – Uncovered



A construction man wearing a hi vis vest and a hard hat at work.

High visibility vests are a type of PPE which combines the use of fluorescent materials and retro reflective stripes. This combination helps enhance visibility during the day as well as at night.

This is critical for the safety of those working near moving vehicles or on public access roadways. High visibility clothing can benefit construction, railway and airport workers, emergency services, etc.

Still, many people choose not to wear this safety workwear, only to realise down the track that it was a bad idea. The fact of the matter is you never know when you might be in danger.

Deciding not to wear your PPE can result in serious injury or death. Statistics for 2017 show that one of the top two causes of death in Singapore were accidents involving vehicles on public roads or at worksites.

There are 3 different classes of hi vis vests approved for different work activities and they should all meet the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standard.

It’s time to find out how to dress your workers properly before they hit the road. But before we set out to uncover the hidden meaning of high visibility vests, these 2017 Singapore work-related injury stats will give you something to reflect on.

Class 1 Safety Vests Are Worn in Low-Risk Areas

Class 1 safety vests are intended for off-road use in low impact areas. It’s those work environments where work is performed at a safe distance from a roadway. Those are the lowest risk areas since vehicle and equipment traffic speed does not exceed 25 mph.

Different classes have different amounts of fluorescent material and retro reflective stripping.

To meet the ANSI standard as a Class 1 industrial garment, a reflective safety vest needs to have at least 217 square inches of fluorescent background material and 155 square inches of reflective tape.

Commonly used by:

  • Parking service attendants
  • Warehouse workers
  • Delivery vehicle drivers

Touring the jobsite #earthdesignsc #wearyourppe

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Class 2 Vests Are Worn for Roadway Work

Class 2 vests are recommended for workers whose job requires them to work on or near roadways. With vehicles travelling between 25 and 50 mph. They are intended for heavy traffic areas and in case of poor visibility due to bad weather conditions.

In contrast with its Class 1 counterpart, a Class 2 vest requires more fluorescent and reflective material. ANSI standard requires it to include a minimum of 775 square inches of background material and 201 square inches of reflective striping.

Commonly used by:

  • Airport baggage handlers
  • Railroad workers
  • Survey crews
  • School crossing guards

The video will give you a visual insight into the importance of hi vis clothing on motorways at night.

Class 3 Vests Are Worn in High-Risk Areas

The most dangerous working environments demand the highest protection. Class 3 high vis vests are designed for work environments that pose the greatest risk to a worker.

They are used in fast traffic areas with vehicles travelling over 50 mph in close proximity. As well as in cases of low visibility road conditions.

Class 3 vests call for the greatest coverage of fluorescent and retro reflective material. Reflective tape is on the front, back and arms for enhanced visibility. Also, a minimum of 1,240 square inches of background material and 310 square inches of reflective tape is required.

Commonly used by:

  • Emergency responders
  • Construction workers
  • Utility workers

We’ve included this infographic for further clarification on the subject.

Click the image to view the whole infographic

High Visibility Vest Colours Decoded

The ANSI standard dictates fluorescent yellow-green and fluorescent orange-red as industrial garment background colours. Still, there’s much more to these colours than one might think at first glance.

And these factors are considered when choosing reflective safety vest colours for a particular work environment.

The Colour of the Reflective Safety Vest Should Contrast the Work Environment

It’s critical to pay attention to how a colour contrasts against it’s background. It’s also advisable to take our subconscious responses to colours into account.

For instance, we’re wired to associate orange with dangerous situations and an increased need for caution.

With so many different objects on the road, the last thing you want is your workers to blend into the background. So, if you need to outfit road workers working in the vicinity of a green grass median, it’s smart to opt for orange vests to stress the contrast.

You can use the two colours interchangeably. Yet, there are a few variables you should take into account when making a choice:

  • Workers should not be the same colour as traffic barrels and traffic cones, as well as construction or emergency vehicles
  • Workers should be identifiable to both motorists and construction vehicle operators.
  • Your safety vests should be visible at a minimum distance of 1,000 feet.

See To Your Workers’ Safety

All things considered, safety workwear, like high visibility vests, do a world of good to people working on or in the vicinity of public roads and in poor lighting conditions. So, the least you can do to cut accident rates is to choose the right ones according to our simple guidelines.

If you’re still indecisive about wearing your PPE, we would caution against it. Many factors contribute to decreased visibility while working on roadways. Scene clutter, vehicle speed, inclement weather or hampered visibility at night can all contribute to road fatalities.

The use of ANSI compliant high visibility safety vests dramatically increases the likelihood of being seen. So, it can save the lives of your employees, as well as discharge your liability as an employer in case of an accident.

So, make wearing high visibility safety vests a part of your company safety culture. For everyone’s sake.

Alsco’s here to help with that. Our hi vis clothing is applicable to a range of different work environments and can be tailored to your specific needs. The good news is that with Alsco’s Industrial Workwear Rental Program you can enjoy limitless industrial uniform cleaning and supply while saving money. How? Well, you’ll be renting, not buying.

No-hassle regular delivery of sterile, cost-effective industrial uniforms sounds like something a busy entrepreneur could look forward to. So, contact us now for the smoothest way to get your visibility issues sorted.


Photo courtesy of Pixabay Images by Life-Of-Pix



Disclaimer – These articles are provided to supply general health, safety, and green information to people responsible for the same in their organisation. The articles are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs.