The Federal Highway Administration has established a policy for high-visibility safety apparel. This new Part in title 23, Code of Federal Regulations requires the use of ANSI certified Class 2 or Class 3 garments by workers who are working within the right of ways of Federal-aid highways. The rule is not an unfounded mandate; it is a requirement or standard applicable to highways that receive Federal-aid, no different from other requirements or standards applicable to these highways.
The final rule is effective November 24, 2008 “by which time States and other agencies shall comply”. According to the rule, “all workers who are within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway who are exposed either to traffic or construction equipment within the work area shall wear high-visibility safety apparel”.
Specific issues regarding the compliance of EMS workers were extensively referenced by the Rule. The rule establishes that the ANSI 107-2004 Class 2 and Class 3 Standards are the minimum apparel performance standard. It leaves open the opportunity for additional garment design features and functions that might benefit emergency responders as potentially allowable in the future.
I just noted this morning on respondersafety.com that Public Safety Vests (ANSI 207-2006) meet the requirements of Federal Regulation 23 CFR 634 according to a letter to the CVVFA Emergency Responder Safety Institute from Jeff Paniti Associate Administrator for Operations at the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), US Department of Transportation.
The decision clears the confusion highway responders faced in preparing to comply with the Rule that goes into effect on November 24, 2008. ANSI labeled garments Class II and Class III are referenced in the rule. In his letter Mr. Paniti stated " we reviewed the ANSI ISEA 207-2006 public safety vest standard very carefully and found this standard compatible with the ANSI/ISEA Class II requirements for night-time visibility."
So EMS Agencies have 3 basic choices; ANSI 107 Class 2 Vests, Class 3 Coats or Ensembles (Class 2 Vest or Coat with Class E Pant), or ANSI 207 Vests. The later 207 Standard, is on a smaller, shorter length vest design. Tear-away features are optional for both 107 and 207 vests. These are vests which are held together with hook and loop fastener at the shoulders and sides. The idea is that if a motorist snags you by the vest it will tear-away. The downsides are that by design these are very lightweight garments, and probably not suitable for load bearing or radio carrying. For those applications, you can still use a Class 2 107 Vest.
If anybody wants a Powerpoint on this new standard, send an e-mail request to firstname.lastname@example.org, & I’ll reply with a copy.