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Both Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) publish standards based on minimum protection levels for reflective safety vests. When discussing OSHA and ANSI standards for workplace safety and personal protective equipment (PPE), it should be noted that ANSI does not directly set standards and OSHA normally uses ANSI data. They approve a variety of independent testing sources to perform laboratory and real world evaluations of items and practices. The data collected and the results they derive are analyzed by ANSI and standards are then published.
OSHA, on the other hand, also analyzes volumes of data regarding workplace safety and PPE. However, in the protective equipment area, OSHA most often takes ANSI standards and uses them as their own. For instance, ANSI safety vests, approved because a high visibility safety vest meets both reflective and observed visibility minimums, will also be OSHA safety vests. This leaves OSHA to both recommend PPE standards and integrate how they should be used to promote worksite safety and accident avoidance.
For example, ANSI recommends that traffic safety vests be orange, yellow, or lime green as their base colors. If their standards are clear, concise, and understandable, OSHA will normally adopt this position as its own. If, however, ANSI stated that “green safety vests” were acceptable, OSHA might work with ANSI to clarify their position and change this to “lime green” or “yellow green” to avoid a company from making errors or a worker from using a hunter green (dark) vest, which has low visibility.
Another example are traffic “flaggers”, which OSHA decided should be primarily clothed in red or orange only, to help drivers quickly recognize they may have to slow or stop because of highway activity. Had ANSI not addressed this issue, OSHA would work with them to coordinate their standards to eliminate confusion and increase worker safety. Be aware that some confusion can still exist. In this case, the U.S. Department of Transportation recommendations state that a flagger's vest, shirt, or jacket should be orange, yellow, or lime/yellow green.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|