High visibility safety vests at first glance appear to be the same now as they have been for many years. But there have been many improvements and variations made to make reflective safety vests more effective and comfortable for workers. Depending on the estimated potential hazards of your job, the type of vest you wear may or may not be American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) approved.
Non-ANSI approved traffic safety vests are used in what is termed Class 1 environments, which are low traffic areas, like those faced by parking lot attendants. The most often used colors:
Class 2 (ANSI approved) reflective safety vests are used by workers in higher traffic areas, but where speeds are usually 25 mph or less. A Class 2 vest looks like those often worn by traffic police or crossing guards. Approved colors for this level vest are orange, yellow, and lime green. Unlike Class 1 products, other variations are not permitted.
Class 3 (ANSI approved) traffic safety vests must use the same colors for daytime work. But Class 2 and 3 ANSI safety vests, using highly reflective material, can also be white or silver, for high night work.
You have three primary choices of material for your safety vest. You could wear a 100% polyester model for most situations. In warm conditions or climates, a mesh safety vest helps keep you cooler during your workday. For reasons of cost and at least the illusion of high reflective ability, vinyl safety vests are also available.
For night work, which greatly increases the potential hazards, you can now wear a lighted safety vest. One type has a light source that makes your vest or the stripes on your vest glow for higher visibility. Another, the LED safety vest (light emitting diode) , that lights you up while you're working.