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The Importance of Visible Clothing for Workplace Safety

January 13, 2021
June 21, 2023
Safety yellow and orange vests

One of the easiest and most cost-effective strategies for reducing the frequency and severity of certain workplace accidents is related to using high-visibility clothing. From warehouse workers in dimly lit store rooms to construction workers laboring on busy highways, high-visibility clothing is a necessity that can help your company protect the health and safety of your workforce and also lower workers compensation claims.

Below, we offer a complete overview of the importance of visible clothing for workplace safety. We will look at some of the OSHA high-visibility clothing requirements, what colors are considered high visibility, the effectiveness of high visibility clothing, and then offer some suggestions on how your business can implement an effective policy. 

The Effectiveness of High-Visibility Clothing

A recent Danish Study published in the peer-reviewed journal “Safety Science” found that the number of accidents per person per month was 47 percent lower among bicycle riders who were wearing a high-visibility jacket. That number rose to 55 percent in the reduction of collisions between cyclists and motor vehicles. While most workers do not ride bicycles as part of their everyday work activities, the findings from this study show the importance of high-visibility clothing for workers in dark or dimly lit areas, or in areas where vehicles are present.  

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) states that:

“High-visibility safety apparel (HVSA) is needed if you work when there is low light and poor visibility, especially if you are working around moving vehicles (cars, trucks or other machinery traveling under their own power – e.g. forklifts, backhoes, etc).  High-visibility items allow you to be seen by the drivers of those vehicles sooner and more readily.  This fact increases your safety at work.  The human eye responds best to large, contrasting, bright or moving objects.  Worker visibility is enhanced by high colour contrast between clothing and the work environment against which it is seen.”

What are the OSHA High-Visibility Clothing Requirements?

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has several requirements related to high-visibility clothing, especially for employees who work around any type of motorized vehicle. In general, the OSHA requirements follow the ANSI/ISEA 107-2020, also known as the American National Standard for High-Visibility Safety Apparel. 

The most recent version of this standard includes specific requirements for color, retro-reflection, physical properties and minimum areas of background, retro-reflective and combined-performance materials, as well as the recommended configuration of the materials. It is codified into the Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) regulations. 

Though the specific requirements for high-visibility clothing vary according to the type of work being done, the OSHA requirements generally require daytime workers in the physical vicinity of motorized vehicles to use a vest, shirt or jacket that is colored orange, yellow or strong yellow-green, with fluorescent colors being preferred. Night time construction workers, flaggers, and others need to have a "retro-reflective" vest, shirt or jacket. This material must reflect back a high percentage of headlight beams. The retro-reflective material needs to be orange, yellow, white, silver or strong yellow-green and also can be fluorescent.

How Can Your Company Develop a High Visibility Clothing Policy?

Any company that has employees who work around any type of motor vehicle needs to develop a comprehensive high visibility clothing policy. This policy should clearly define what type of high-visibility clothing needs to be used in a given situation, and make it obligatory for employees to adhere to these policies. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that “private industry employers reported 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses in 2019.”

Incorporating clear policies to reduce the risk of worker injury is not only an important part of creating a safe workplace environment, but also an important strategy to cut back on costly insurance claims for your company. 

Stand Out With Work-Fit

Work-Fit is a leading provider of onsite injury prevention and management for your workforce. We have years of experience in helping businesses from all different industries to create and implement injury prevention programs. Our injury prevention program can help your company develop different strategies to promote a preventive care model that increases productivity rates and creates savings on employer healthcare costs.

Contact the professionals at Work-Fit
today to see how we can help your company develop a high-visibility clothing policy that is part of a greater injury prevention protocol. 


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