What are Enhanced Visibility Work Uniforms and who should wear them?

The safety of employees working in airports as part of the ground crew and in the road construction industry is addressed in part by uniform workplace visibility requirements established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the US Highway Administration, including standards such as ANSI/ ISEA 107 for high visibility clothing and required wearers to prevent accidents that could cause serious injury.

But what about other slightly hazardous industries not covered by these high-visibility regulations, such as non-road construction, manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, automobiles, transportation, and parcel delivery?

Workers in this and other industries who work near moving vehicles or equipment, work at night, or work in weather conditions that make them harder to see may also be protected by “enhanced visibility” work uniforms.

The option of enhanced visibility work uniform rental programs can protect your high-risk employees beyond buying them in some circumstances, and are more cost-effective in the long run.

What is the difference between high and enhanced visibility?

As mentioned earlier, the requirements of high-visibility jackets and other garments fall under ANSI standards and include the use of one of three colors of fluorescent background material behind the reflective fabric: red, orange-red, and yellow-green. So if you see one of these colors on a reflective work uniform, you know it’s highly visible.

Enhanced Visibility uniforms are not required to meet ANSI standards, but they do stand out with reflective stripes in bright colors down the sleeves, across the front and back of shirts and around the legs.

Renting versus buying

Some employers purchase safety vests with enhanced visibility for their employees, but often quickly run into problems ensuring they are worn at all times, kept clean and not lost – all of which defeat the original purpose.

Because it’s what they wear to work rather than something to wear over their street clothes, workers wearing high-visibility uniforms can’t just take them off whenever they want. Rental services also ensure that employees always have clean uniforms for every day of the week.

Rent versus workplace injury costs

While it’s hard to estimate, preventing a single injury is probably worth the extra cost — sure, lower workers’ compensation costs, insurance premiums, and avoidance of OSHA fines are attractive, too.

According to OSHA, “A widely cited source regarding estimates of the magnitude of these costs is the Liberty Mutual Research Institute, which reports the direct cost of the most disabling workplace injuries in 2008 at $53 billion (Liberty Mutual Research Institute, 2010).

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Another source, the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI), estimates annual workers’ compensation payments for all compensable injuries and illnesses in 2009 to be $58 billion (National Academy of Social Insurance, 2011). NASI further reports the total Costs paid by employers for workers’ compensation increased from $60 billion in 2000 to $74 billion in 2009.”