By Paul Maturen
Wearing high-visibility garments to increase the likelihood of being seen and avoiding potential struck-by accidents may seem like a common practice for those working on or near busy roadways. However, at the end of this year, this practice will become mandatory under the Federal Register Final Rule and revised document of the 2009 Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The deadline for phase-in compliance was Dec. 31, 2011.
In general, this means that all workers on or near a roadway must wear high-visibility apparel as laid out under the guidelines of the MUTCD. However, it’s important to note exactly how the regulation has changed and how its updates affect your workers. Following is an overview of the key changes from the previous version of the MUTCD that all employers and their workers need to know.
MUTCD Takes Over as Governing Regulation
On Dec. 31, 2011, the MUTCD became the primary regulatory document mandating the use of high-visibility apparel for all affected workers in the United States, and 23 CFR Part 634 is vacated with the language carried into the MUTCD Section 6D.03.
Although these regulations originally were mandated by 23 CFR Part 634, the MUTCD now becomes the ruling document with which all workers must comply in roadway traffic environments.
Expanded Use Areas for All Workers
Mandatory use areas are expanded beyond federal-aid highways, such as interstates, and will cover all roads “open to public travel.” The legislation covers any road where a car can be driven without passing through a traffic-control gate, including private property. Simply put, the rule now has an expanded scope that extends to nearly any roadway where a vehicle can be driven.
Garments Must Meet ANSI 107 Guidelines
All workers within the right-of-way, including emergency responders (who also have some other garment options), are required to wear high-visibility safety apparel that meets performance Class 2 or 3 of ANSI/ISEA 107-2004 or equivalent revisions.
In other words, workers within the right-of-way must wear garments that include the necessary design, required fluorescent materials, mandatory amount and placement of quality reflective materials, and the proper care labeling as defined in the ANSI/ISEA 107-2004 standard and equivalent revisions.
For a detailed guide to ANSI 107 Class 2 or 3 garment standards, read ANSI/ISEA 107-2010 Made Easy: A Quick Reference to High-Visibility Safety Apparel, at
Special Requirements for Emergency Responders
The use of ANSI/ISEA 207-2006 (or equivalent revision) garments is included as an option for emergency and incident responders and law enforcement officers to meet requirements of this regulation in lieu of ANSI/ISEA 107-2004. Specific circumstances for law enforcement include, “When uniformed law enforcement personnel are used to direct traffic, to investigate crashes or to handle lane closures, obstructed roadways and disasters, high-visibility safety apparel shall be worn.”
ANSI 207 is a design specifically for public safety, or police officers, which is the same as ANSI 107 garments in nearly all respects except they are shorter in length so vests and garments do not interfere with officers’ access to their weapons. ANSI 207 public safety garments are in compliance with the MUTCD and can be used by emergency and incident responders and law enforcement officers when they are investigating crashes and handling lane closures.
Requirements for firefighters are now subject to the option in the following paragraph: “Firefighters or other emergency responders working within the right-of-way and engaged in emergency operations that directly expose them to flame, fire, heat and/or hazardous materials may wear retro reflective turnout gear that is specified and regulated by other organizations, such as the National Fire Protection Association.”
When firefighters on the roadside are engaged in emergency operations that expose them to flames and fires or that require them to use their turnout gear, they are in compliance with the new regulation when this gear has high-visibility materials according to NFPA 1971.
A Hazard Assessment is Required
The Worker Safety Plan in the 2009 MUTCD states, “A trained person designated by the employer should conduct a basic hazard assessment for the worksite and job classifications required in the activity area. This plan should be in accordance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, as amended, General Duty Clause Section 5(a) (1) – Public Law 91-596, 84 Stat.1590.”
This update applies to any contractor or employer of workers out on the roadway — whether construction site, package delivery or landscaping — and necessitates that a basic hazard assessment be done via a trained professional to dictate what type of high-visibility clothing is needed for those workers.
Crossing Guards Must Comply
The Uniform of Adult Crossing Guards Section 7D.04 states, “Law enforcement officers performing school crossing supervision and adult crossing guards shall wear high-visibility retro-reflective safety apparel labeled as ANSI 107-2004 standard performance for Class 2 as described in Section 6E.02.”
Adult crossing guards, such as those around schools and construction sites, must wear high-visibility apparel that is compliant to ANSI 107.
Steps to Meet Requirements
As a result of these changes, safety managers must make the necessary adjustments to their companies’ workforce to ensure compliance. Following is a five-step process to help both employers and workers meet the requirements as laid out under the updated MUTCD regulation.
Step 1: Understand your obligations under federal regulations. Study the regulation updates and share them with your workers to ensure all are in full understanding of the new changes.
Step 2: Complete a risk assessment for each job function. Determine the low-visibility hazards for each job description at your worksite, including work zone hazards (roadway traffic speeds, workers’ proximity to traffic and work zone equipment, task load); environment background (time of day, seasons, weather, temperature exposure, equipment); and additional considerations (workplace exposure, garment appearance, laundry protocol).
Step 3: Identify garment options for each job function. Based on risk assessment, choose garment class per ANSI 107- 2010 (or 2004); choose apparel types, such as jackets, rainwear, tee-shirts and vests; and conduct an onsite visibility demonstration and/or a wear test to confirm choices.
Step 4: Create garment specifications. Prepare specifications that ensure the garments you purchase comply with high-visibility standards; specify certified products only; and ensure the performance, color, sizing, customization, features, care guidelines, comfort, style and durability desired is received.
Step 5: Implement a garment program. Issue garments to workers; provide continuous education and training on topics such as the importance of wearing garments in the workplace environment, how to wear and maintain the garments and when to replace them; repeat assessments as needed and adjust the program as necessary.
Paul Maturen is marketing manager, 3M Occupational Health and Environmental Safety Division – Protective Apparel and Footwear Market Center. 3M offers an eCommerce site, Scotchlite.com/BuyNow, which allows buyers to find the garments for specific needs by searching the necessary criteria. Visit www.scotchlite.com. For additional inquiries call (800) 3M-HELPS.