There is just no way of telling exactly how many lives and serious injuries safety vests have saved. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists some of the most dangerous industries.
If you work any of these, you already know your safety vest requirement. Not surprisingly, fishing, hunting and forestry make up three of the top four most dangerous. Agriculture is the surprising fourth of these most dangerous industries.
Fishing, even leisure fishing, is wrought with potential mishaps. Commercial fishing greatly multiplies such danger. Large machinery, like boats, combined with struggles against natural forces, like the sea, always invite danger. Where there is danger death lurks.
Hunting of course speaks for itself. Guns, the excitement of the hunt and carelessness make up the exact recipe for injury and death. Mining and transportation-related jobs make up the bulk of the top most dangerous work environments.
Red Safety Vests
Red safety vests are fire fighter vests. The actual vest itself is red with the required inches of reflective tape. Ideally, they are flame resistant, though not all are. For those which are not flame resistant, they must be labeled as Non-Flame Resistant. The two classification symbols are FR and NOT FR. For the vest to meet the Flame Resistant requirement, the vest itself must be made from flame resistant material. This material itself must meet four standards.
- Certified to one of six accepted standards
- Made up of specifically designed flame resistant fiber like Nomex or an acrylic blend
- Will stand up to heat without melting
- Resist direct flame
A vest is not classified as Flame Resistant if it:
- Is a polyester fabric or any polyester blend
- Has been tested to minimal standards like NFPA 107 only
- Does melts or runs when ignited
- Cannot give third party verification of the materials used in its makeup
These standards matter because these vests are designed to protect firefighters. Some polyester and polyester blends are out there marked as FR, but they are not. If they were produced before the 2010 ANSI standard was published, they confuse those who use them. They think they are wearing FR, but they are not. A vest that is a treated polyester or blend can ignite in a flash fire or fire caused by arc. Wearers of these vests are exposed to severe danger.
High Visibility Safety Vests
High visibility safety vests serve one main purpose. They make the wearer highly visible to others. They alert others to the wearer’s presence. They are colored and striped distinctively, and they do not blend in with nearby surroundings. I mean, how many orange deer have you seen?
In addition to occupations which require them, cyclists, hunters, hikers and anyone else who does not want to be mistaken for something they are not should be mindful to wear them. For instance, hunters are required to wear bright or blaze orange in most states. They even have the color in camouflage patterns. This color is clearly distinguishable to the human eye, but deer have difficulty discerning the human shape when it is worn.
Additional Types of Safety Vests
Traffic Safety Vests and Colors
Safety vests are colored according to the industry in which they are used. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has developed classifications for every sector of dangerous work environments.
They assign colors based on the degree of danger associated with a particular industry for its workforce.
The least dangerous jobs are classified as Class I. These vests are worn where workers are working in slow moving traffic, usually under 25 mph, and the workers are a relatively safe distance from that slow moving traffic. These vests are either yellow or orange, and they must have at least 155 inches of reflective tape. The reflective tape must basically create an outline of the upper torso of the wearer.
Class II safety vests are for those who are working around traffic traveling under 50 mph. They must also cover a larger area of the torso with reflective striping.
Class III is for the most dangerous jobs around fast moving traffic. Their reflective tape requirement causes them to be as large as a full shirt for maximum visibility by passing traffic.