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Reflective vests are Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) designed to make the wearer more visible to others – typically called Hi-Vis vests. These come in bright, neon coloured fabric and feature strips of reflective tape which reflect the light from headlights of moving vehicles. Workers who wear reflective vests are easier to spot, even from a distance or in low light conditions. As a result, accidents are reduced since motorists and machinists can easily see the workers wearing the high-visibility vests.
There are different types of bests required for different work or job site environments based on the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) regulations:
Class 1 vests provide minimal amount of bright and reflective material, usually in orange, yellow, and lime green. They are used for occupational activities with low traffic, meaning the worker must have ample distance from the approaching traffic. Vehicle speed should not exceed 25 mph, and the worker must have his full attention to approaching traffic. These vests are ideal for sidewalk maintenance workers, parking attendants, and even shopping cart retrievers.
Class 2 reflective vests are worn by people who need greater visibility in areas of high traffic, dangerous weather conditions, and complex backgrounds. People who work in construction, law enforcement, emergency response, and utility fields need to wear this type of safety vest.
Class 2 reflective vests are worn on top of uniforms or shirts and come in fluorescent orange, lime, or yellow. Several styles of class 2 vests are available including adjustable variants, illuminated, mesh, and even vests made of flame retardant (FR) material. Usually, the vest also displays the company or department logo for identification purposes.
Class 3 reflective vests offer the highest level of visibility and are required to be worn by workers on federal road right-of-ways when exposed to traffic or construction. They must be worn by workers performing heavy-duty tasks in limited or no light conditions, in areas of higher traffic in excess of 50 mph, or in extreme weather conditions.
Class 3 reflective safety vests provide visibility through the full range of body motions from a distance of at least 1,280 feet. Maintaining high visibility should be a priority. You need to make sure that you and your workers are wearing the correct reflective vests for overall safety and for unique safety requirements for specific tasks