Selecting and Using Safety Vests

Selecting and Using Safety Vests: All of the Important Details

Sometimes, it's important to stand out—not because you want the attention, but because your job requires it.

People who work in dangerous jobs often need to be highly visible. Think about road construction, for instance. Drivers must be able to spot those workers.

One easy solution to this problem is the use of safety vests.

Safety vests are brightly colored, reflective garments that help workers stand out, whether it's day or night. Safety vests aren't just a good idea; in many jobs, they're a requirement. 

There are many careers that can benefit from safety vests, and vests themselves are more than just a colorful piece of clothing.

In fact, there are several classifications of safety vests. There are also benefits of safety vests beyond the obvious. Keep reading to learn more about how safety vests work and who needs them.

Safety Vest Construction and Coloration

Safety vests are simple pieces of clothing. As the name implies, they're vests that you wear over the top of your normal clothing. Most safety vests are made of lightweight materials like mesh or polyester.

In some cases, safety vests are made of warmer materials for use in winter or cold climate regions.

The most common colors of safety vests are yellow and orange because these colors are easy to see. Yellow, in particular, is one of the most visible colors from a distance, along with green.

This is especially true at night. In low-light conditions, yellow overtakes green as the most visible color in the spectrum. That's why yellow safety vests are a popular choice for nighttime jobs!

As for orange vests, they stand out well against blue skies and green grass. They draw the eye, helping you notice the wearer thanks to the contrast.

Safety vests usually have silver stripes, as well. These serve two purposes: the first is that these strips are often reflective. The second is to further contrast the vest's main color. Both help the vest stick out more.

Who Needs a Safety Vest?

Safety vests are useful in a wide variety of jobs. As previously mentioned, road construction might be the most commonplace to see a safety vest; a worker in a high traffic area needs a way to stand out.

Crossing guards and other road-adjacent workers also use safety vests, as do parking lot attendants. Virtually anyone who works around vehicle traffic needs a safety vest.

Even workers on construction sites away from the road require safety vests since there are on-site vehicles and equipment to consider.

Construction might be the obvious example, but there's another class of workers that need safety vests: first responders and medical professionals.

This applies to public safety figures like law enforcement and firefighters, but it also includes ambulance workers and other emergency medical personnel.

Depending on the situation they're responding to, EMS workers may need to put themselves in risky positions to save people. In such cases, high visibility clothing can make all the difference.

Kinds of Safety Vests

While most safety vests share similar traits, not all safety vests are the same. There are several designations of safety vests based on length, amount of reflective material, and other factors.

There are three classes of safety vests designated by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), as well as a few different type distinctions.

ANSI Class 1 vests are the most basic. They offer the least visibility and are appropriate for employees with few workplace hazards; for example, parking lot attendants who aren't around fast-moving vehicles.

ANSI Class 2 vests are larger and have more reflective material on the vest. This allows more visibility and is appropriate for people like crossing guards. 

ANSI Class 3 vests cover more area and have the highest amount of reflective material for maximum visibility. These are the vests worn by emergency medical personnel or highway construction workers.

As for the three types of safety vest, they are Type P (Public Safety), Type O (Off-Road), and Type R (Roadway).

Type P vests are used by first responders and EMS. They are a bit shorter to allow the wearer access to important tools and supplies.

Type O vests are smaller and require less reflective material since the wearers are not around fast-moving vehicles. Type R is the standard option.

Increased Visibility and Other Benefits

The primary goal of a safety vest is, of course, to increase the visibility of anyone wearing it. Staying visible is the easiest way to increase your safety while in low-visibility or high-speed areas.

In addition to bright colors and reflective material, some vests include small led lights. This makes them stand out even more, particularly in dark settings or at night.

Reflective clothing like safety vests maximize the chance that passing motorists will see you, but that's not all a safety vest can do. Many are capable of protecting the wearer in other ways.

The most common example of this is fire-resistant vests. Fire-resistant vests are normal safety vests (often Class 2 vests) that are chemically treated to make them resistant to flames.

Fire-resistant vests are often employed by firefighters, but they can be used by other professionals as well. Many rescue workers and emergency medical personnel can benefit from the use of a fire-resistant vest. 

There's another kind of vest called a self-extinguishing vest. These are similar to, but distinct from, fire-resistant vests.

Self-extinguishing vests also undergo chemical treatment, but it doesn't make them more resistant to fire; instead, it prevents the vest from burning for more than a few seconds.

While personal safety is the main reason to wear a safety vest, there are other benefits, too. For instance, a company can use vests as a branding opportunity by embroidering a name or logo onto the vest.

Stay Protected

Safety vests are a vital tool for keeping workers safe. Whether you're on a construction site or providing emergency medical services, a safety vest provides a lot of security in a small, comfortable package.

Do you need a safety vest or other protective equipment? Get in touch with us today to find out more about our extensive range of safety products.