Employers, regardless of location or industry, are mandated to comply with work health and safety regulations in order to ensure that their employees are safe and protected from potential workplace hazards. This includes the provision and use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), like safety vests, especially for employees who are deployed in accident-prone areas. Green Triangle Distributors, a manufacturer and supplier of standard and custom safety vests, agrees that workplace safety shall exist only when both the employer and its workers know, understand and adhere to workplace safety standards.
Safety vests may not seem attractive but their purpose goes beyond fashion. Wearing them is to prevent injury and to ensure that the wearer is visible at day, night or when working in poorly lit areas. If you’re working on a hazard-prone environment or if you’re tasked to buy safety garments for your organisation, these are the safety features that you should look into when procuring a safety vest.
When you are working in areas with moving vehicles, heavy machinery, construction equipment or other high-risk situations, you need to be clearly visible. Based on Australian Standard AS/NZS4602.1:2011, there are three classifications for high-visibility safety garments:
Class D – Garments used for daytime use only
Class N – Garments used for night-time
Class D/N – Provides high-visibility both at daytime and nighttime conditions
Class D safety vests must be incorporated with fluorescent material to increase visibility during outdoor daytime use. Since fluorescent fabric needs natural sunlight to work, it is not effective during night-time, dusk, dawn or under artificial light.
On the other hand, Class N safety vests need retroreflective light to be seen at night, in low-light level conditions or when under retroreflective light, such as the headlights of a vehicle.
For Class D/N safety vests, both Class D and N requirements must be met.
Both fluorescent and retroreflective strips should come in a colour that is in contrast with the background of the safety vest so they will be easier see. Correct placement on the arms and legs is also recommended to help indicate the wearer’s movement.
For better safety and protection, a safety vest should fit your body shape while taking into account the bulk of clothes that you wear underneath it. The safety vest should be made from lightweight fabric, allowing you freedom to move but will stay in place as you work.
Colour and Brightness
Colour selection is also important as it allows better visibility and warns vehicle drivers or equipment operators that there are workers ahead. Standard colours include fluorescent red, orange, yellow or yellow-green as they are brighter and more attractive to the human eye. You should also carefully choose the appropriate combination of garment colour and stripe material to achieve the desired contrast.
While wearing a safety vest does not eliminate the existence of hazards in the workplace, it reduces a person’s exposure to risks of injury or accident. This is why both the employer and employee must ensure that their safety vests and other safety gear are OSHA-compliant.