Safety vests serve many purposes, but one of the most important purposes is to make sure that pedestrians and drivers are aware that workers are in the vicinity. Even the color of the vests is significant. We will take a quick look at the color coding used for safety vests so that you can better understand what the colors mean and how the colors are used.
No doubt you have seen the various colored safety vests if you have been near a construction zone or an industrial area. Not only are highly visible colors used to draw your attention to the workers, but specific colors are also used for a specific reason.
These types of vests are often referred to as high visibility safety apparel. Vests are not the only form of high visibility safety apparel, though. You may also see jackets, coveralls, gloves, shirts, pants, and other articles of clothing. Let’s take a look specifically at vests right now, though.
It is required that all safety vests conform to OSHA standards. This organization sets and maintains safety standards for places of business. Their purpose is to keep employees safe and to increase the safety of the American workplace. OSHA sets standards for safety apparel as well. Under these guidelines, safety vests have been placed into three categories.
Class 1- Class 2 safety vests are often used by workers required to operate in a low-risk area. These would be areas in which traffic does not often exceed 25 mph. These workers are stationed away from traffic. Class 1 safety vests are to have a minimum of 155 square inches of reflective tape in addition to reflective material. The reflective tape is to be placed on top of the reflective material.
Class 2- Class 2 safety vests are often used by workers who would be stationed in low visibility areas that experience heavy traffic. This would be traffic that exceeds 25 mph. This type of safety vest would require a minimum of 201 square inches of reflective tape in addition to the reflective material of the vest itself.
Class 3- Class 3 safety vests are often used by workers stationed in very dangerous work areas. These areas would have limited visibility. Traffic may exceed speeds of 50 mph in these areas, making safety in these areas a much higher priority. This type of vest will require a minimum of 310 square inches of reflective tape in addition to the reflective material. This type of vest should be plainly visible up to 1,280 feet.
Understanding Safety Color Coding
Colors are often used to signal certain things. The color red, for instance, is often used to signal danger or warning. The colors that are chosen for safety vests are colors that would be considered highly luminescent and easily seen from far away. The colors are not chosen haphazardly. They are chosen with intention.
Red- OSHA has set a standard that red will be used to identify fire protection equipment. This can include:
- Fire protection apparatus
- Fire-related hazards
- Fire danger signs
- Emergency buttons
- Emergency switches
- Flammable liquids
Yellow- The color yellow is used to draw attention and caution concerning specific physical hazards. This can include hazards of:
Orange- The color orange is often used to signal machinery danger.
Green- Green is often used to signal exits and evacuation routes, first aid kits, and other types of safety equipment.
Blue- Blue is used to signal important labeling that needs attention for safety purposes.
Safety Vests Color Coding
When it comes to safety vest color-coding, the most important detail is conspicuity. This means that it is very important for the vest to be highly visible. This means that the vest will draw attention. Different colors have high or low contrast with other colors, so you can combine colors to contrast with each other to increase the conspicuity.
Orange Safety Vests – Safety vests in the color orange or fluorescent orange are highly visible in outdoor settings because the color orange will contrast starkly with the blue of the sky. This helps keep outdoor workers safer while they are doing their duties.
Yellow Safety Vests – Yellow is often used because it is one of the most visible colors to the eyes. This makes yellow safety vests a good choice for both indoor and outdoor workers.
Lime Green- In some cases, a lime green color may also be used as it has a similar effect on the human eye as yellow.
Types of Workers Using Safety Vests
High visibility vests are often used by workers in dangerous settings. Some examples are:
- Construction workers
- Security workers
- Equipment handlers
- Warehouse employees
- Railway workers
- Shopping cart retrievers
- Utility crews
- Delivery drivers
Safety vests may seem like a small part of the job, but these important pieces of apparel help to keep workers safe from injury.
These types of vests also help drivers, pedestrians, and bystanders to better understand the dangers that could be present at a job site or on the roads. When you see the brightly colored safety vests, you know that it is time to slow down and pay close attention to what is going on around you.
This can help to cut down on the injuries and accidents involving workers and others. It is important to stay alert to the types of work and workers that are present in an area. It is also important to be aware of the colors being used in buildings and worksites. These colors are used carefully to help you stay alert and out of danger.
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