Safety Vests – Understanding the Different Classes & Colors

Hi visibility safety vests come in a variety of bright colors that are intended to stand out from natural environmental hues. The color of a vest depends upon the type of activity you will perform. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) require that certain activities use certain types of vests, depending on the potential hazards associated with that particular activity.

Class 1 vests are for environments with low traffic and would appropriate for parking attendants. These vests are typically orange, yellow or lime green (sometimes referred to as yellow-green), but can legally be any color you choose as they are not federally regulated.

A Class 2 vest is worn by workers in high traffic areas with speeds below 25 miles per hour. These vests are frequently worn by city traffic police and crossing guards and must be orange, yellow or lime green.

Class 3 ANSI vests are for high speed, high traffic areas. These are also required to be orange, yellow or green for enhanced daytime visibility. These vests also feature white or silver reflective material for better visibility at night. LED or lighted vests are also available for increased nighttime visibility.

Yellow, orange, and lime green are truly the standard for traffic-related safety vests, but you will also find blue vests on accident or emergency incident scenes. Blue vests are used to clearly differentiate medical personnel from other emergency workers, such as fire and police respondents. These vests are typically reflective and are labeled with the type of medical responder, such as “EMT” or “triage director.” The blue vests help to establish structure in an otherwise chaotic scene and can save lives by clearly defining the roles of the attendants.