Importance of Hi-Vis Vests for Construction Workers

Anyone who has ever worked in the construction industry has likely put on a safety vest at some point. This apparel does more than increase the wearer's visibility.

It also lets the construction company comply with all local, state, and federal rules.

It is the task of each employer and employee to ensure everyone is wearing a hi-vis vest in a construction area to encourage safety. They're made of vibrant colors, while some have reflective materials for night visibility or high traffic volumes.

Some construction safety vests incorporate a harness for jobs in the air or near water. Fire-resistant vests provide heat protection advantages. You can even find options with LED lighting to enhance the benefits of the reflective strips.

Safety Vests Help to Save Lives on Construction Sites

About one-fifth of all fatal incidents at construction sites in the United States were due to not having a safety vest. When complex backgrounds are part of the environment, low-visibility hazards deliver even more significant risks.

People cannot recognize workers who don't have a hi-vis vest or other apparel that enhances their visibility to others.

When someone wears dark clothing at night, they might not be seen until someone is within 100 feet of where they are. If you're working a construction job on a highway, that's not enough time for a driver to reach.

Light clothing is three times easier to see, but that change isn't enough to protect construction workers in many environments. When reflective materials are added, a person is seven times more likely to be recognized in time to prevent an injury.

What Are the Components of a High-Visibility Design?

A high-visibility vest comes with a design meant to be easily noticed. Since human vision responds better to bright, large, and moving objects, this investment in safety reduces risk factors whenever construction workers wear them.

The best hi-vis vests should grab someone's attention. That’s why they're in colors like fluorescent yellow and orange.

The garments include reflective material strips that are typically silver or white. This combination helps workers at night in low-visibility situations stay visible.

The configuration and location of the reflective materials let someone know if someone is facing them or has their back turned.

These safety vests create 360 degrees of visibility when constructed according to today's standards.

The Work Area Helps to Dictate the Garment Color and Reflectiveness

When construction workers are active in daylight hours, the high-visibility vests use bright colors over dull ones to create a standout visual to enhance safety.

Dark environments use phosphorescence and retro-reflective materials with bright colors to ensure visibility.

For low-light situations, fluorescent and reflective materials create a beneficial combination to help workers be seen.

Unless heat resistance is necessary, hi-vis vests are very lightweight. They're designed to deliver a comfortable fit and maximum maneuverability. Mesh is used because it dries quickly if it gets wet without creating discomfort for the worker.

What Are the Different Types of Hi-Vis Safety Vests?

Three different class types are available for consideration when looking at the best safety vest options in this category for construction workers.

Those three types are then broken down into three separate classes.

The table below offers a summary of what to expect from the three types and when it would be appropriate to use them.

Hi-Vis Safety Vest Type How This Hi-Vis Vest Is Used Best
Type O Safety Vest This option is a class one vest type. That allows it to work well in low-impact areas where traffic doesn't exceed 25 miles per hour. Most workers who sport this option are employed in off-road areas that might come into contact with moving equipment or vehicles. That includes delivery drivers, parking assistants, or warehouse workers.
Type R Safety Vest Workers with this safety vest are using a class two or three product. It represents the majority of the hi-vis vests used in the construction industry today. It allows for contact with heavy traffic or working in low visibility areas. The designs may include full or partial body coverage. You'll see them on ground crews, road construction employees, airline ramp workers, and people in similar situations.
Type P Safety Vest The benefits of this hi-vis safety vest are similar to Type R. They're intended more for emergency services personnel, including law enforcement, EMS, and firefighters.

You can combine today's best hi-vis bests with other visibility clothing items to ensure construction workers stand out in any environment.

Several different types are available, including shirts, pants, jackets, sweatshirts, rain gear, and overalls.

Safety should always be a top priority for construction workers and agencies. Even with appropriate apparel worn, it helps to check your surroundings to identify potential hazards.

By taking all possible precautions, the safety of employees will create better working spaces.

Do I Need a Breakaway Safety Vest?

Breakaway vests are a type of hi-vis vest that prevents workers from getting entangled in moving machinery or equipment. When a strong pull occurs, the fasteners automatically detach. That design allows the individual to escape faster.

Two standard components are available. A five-point construction allows for immediate disconnection if caught, while a hook-and-loop option is easier to pull apart to let the vest fall away.

When combined, the breakaway vest works to ensure it gets pulled into an entanglement instead of the worker.

Are There Any Disadvantages to Wearing a Hi-Vis Vest?

Although safety vests provide significant benefits to construction workers, they aren’t a perfect product.

If someone isn't paying attention in a worksite area, the chances are good that they won't see construction workers out there. Wearing a vest decreases the risk of an incident occurring, but it doesn’t eliminate the issue entirely.

Employees that put on a hi-vis vest often adopt a safety mindset that offers confidence, but it can also trigger an opposite outcome. Some people put on this apparel and start feeling unsafe. They think of themselves as a target that makes them stand out in the crowd. This reaction can limit that individual's productivity.

Although rare, a safety vest can also cause adverse physical reactions. There could be an allergy to the material, or it might interfere with adaptive devices.

Even in these situations, the benefits of wearing a hi-vis vest are worth the issues that some workers need to manage. It's better to be uncomfortable and safe than comfortable and at a high risk for harm.