What Are Enhanced Visibility Work Uniforms & Who Should Wear Them?

The safety of employees working at airports as part of ground crews and in the road construction industry are partially addressed by work uniform visibility requirements established by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the US Highway Administration, including standards like ANSI/ISEA 107 for “high-visibility” clothing and required wearers to prevent accidents that could cause serious injury.

But what about other somewhat hazardous industries that don’t fall under these high visibility regulations, such as non-road construction, manufacturing, warehousing and distribution, automotive, transportation, and package delivery?

Employees in these and other industries that operate near moving vehicles or equipment, who work at night or work under weather conditions making them harder to see, can also be protected by “enhanced visibility” work uniforms.

The option of enhanced visibility work uniform rental programs can further protect your at-risk employees than purchasing them in some circumstances, and be more cost-effective in the long run.

What’s the Difference Between High & Enhanced Visibility?

As previously mentioned, the requirements of high visibility jackets and other apparel items are covered by ANSI standards and include using one of three colors for fluorescent background material behind the reflective fabric: red, orange-red and yellow-green. Thus, if you see one of these colors on a reflective work uniform, you know it’s high-visibility.

Enhanced visibility uniforms do not have to meet ANSI standards, but they do stand out with reflective striping in bright colors along the sleeves, across the front and back of shirts, and around pant legs.

Renting vs. Buying

Some employers purchase enhanced visibility safety vests for their workers, but often quickly have problems ensuring that they’re worn at all times, stay clean and aren’t lost – all of which defeats the original purpose.

Because it’s what they wear to work instead of something to wear over their street clothes, workers wearing enhanced visibility uniforms cannot just take them off whenever they feel like it. Rental services also ensure that employees always have clean uniforms for every day of the week.

Rental vs. Workplace Injury Costs

While it’s hard to estimate, the prevention of a single injury is likely worth the additional cost – certainly, lower workers compensation costs, insurance premiums and avoiding OSHA fines is also appealing.

According to OSHA, “One 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 to be $53 billion (Liberty Mutual Research Institute, 2010).

“Another source, the National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI), estimates the annual workers’ compensation benefits paid for all compensable injuries and illnesses in 2009 at $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.”