OSHA Requirements for High Visibility Clothing - Updated for 2023
Workplace safety should be your number one priority, no matter what industry you operate in. It’s so important that OSHA has developed a clear and concise set of standards and requirements to ensure workers’ safety. Employers must provide a safe environment for workers, which includes putting in place safety rules such as wearing high-visibility clothing. Employers must make sure workers understand and follow the OSHA rules for when to wear high-visibility clothing to avoid costly penalties and fines for noncompliance.
What Is High Visibility Clothing?
High-visibility (Hi vis) clothing refers to garments that make it easier for a worker to be seen in certain lighting conditions. There are different classes of clothing based on the light levels and the worker’s proximity to traffic. Each class also has different requirements for the amount of reflective space that must be present. Meanwhile, Class 3 garments include a vest with Class E pants, coveralls, outerwear, and rainwear require increased reflective space.
When is High Visibility Clothing Required by OSHA?
Whenever you’re exposed to traffic, moving equipment, or other hazards, high-visibility garments are essential. Construction, maintenance, warehouse, and utility workers are among the workers who must wear high-visibility clothing on the job site. Other workers who are routinely exposed to low visibility hazards while on the job are also required to wear hi-vis clothing. High-visibility clothing comes in three unique classes:
Class 1 Garments
Intended for locations where a worker is exposed to, but separated from traffic, moving no faster than 25 mph. This type of PPE is best suited for workers performing tasks that do not divert their attention from the traffic nearby. Class 1 garments include garments like t-shirts, vests, jackets, and overalls.
Class 2 Garments
This type of reflective garment is for workers whose tasks can or will divert their attention from approaching traffic. Workers who are exposed to moving vehicles exceeding 25 mph must also use Class 2 garments which also include vests, jackets, long-sleeve shirts, pants, and overalls.
Class 3 Garments
This type of reflective gear must be worn by workers who have tasks that place them in imminent danger from approaching traffic. To meet OSHA standards, the wearer must be conspicuous at a minimum distance of 1,280 feet when wearing high-visibility clothing. Coveralls, rain gear, jackets, and overalls are Class 3 garments.
What Are the OSHA Standards for High Visibility Clothing?
Per the OSHA Act OSH Act, 29 U.S.C. §654(a)(1), also known as the General Duty Clause, OSHA requires high-visibility apparel for flaggers, workers exposed to vehicle traffic near excavations, and for other workers in highway/construction zones which are exposed to traffic. Specific requirements include:
- High visibility garments must be yellow-green, orange, or a combination of the two.
- The background material must be at least 217 square inches for Class 1 garments, 755 square inches for Class 2 garments, and 1,240 square inches.
- Reflective material or tape must cover at least 155 square inches for Class 1, 201 square inches for Class 2, and 310 square inches for Class 3 garments.
- Reflective bands and tape must contrast with the background color (orange on yellow, or vice versa). We have a whole guide for choosing the right color hi vis gear.
- Reflective logos, images, and text can contribute to the reflective material requirements.
- Reflective bands must be present on the sleeve of the garment if there is no sleeve, reflective material should be on the shoulder area.
- The garment must be designed for correct fit and positioning as well as to ensure that it remains in
- place for the expected period of use.
Are Employers Required to Pay for PPE Like HiVis Clothing?
Although OSHA does require high-visibility clothing for construction and other workers, it does not require employers to pay for the garments. However, in many cases, employers do provide PPE to their workers. If your employer does not provide hi-vis garments, it is up to you to obtain and wear them appropriately.
Where Can I Find High Visibility Garments That Meet OSHA standards?
Staying safe at work is as important as getting the job done. If you work in construction and are exposed to traffic under low light conditions, it’s imperative that you have the proper garments to ensure your visibility. We offer a complete line of hi-vis clothing from Class 1 shirts to Class 3 coveralls and everything in between. Our hi-vis clothing items include shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, pants, rainwear, headwear, women's clothing, gloves, and a wide array of other items. Contact us to learn more about high visibility garments and OSHA requirements, or place your order today.