The Journal for Public Infrastructure


A Quick Reference to High-Visibility Safety Apparel

The American National Standard for High-Visibility Safety Apparel and Headwear (ANSI/ISEA 107-2010) is a standard established by American National Standards Institute, Inc. Construction, maintenance, utility, emergency responders, airport ramp personnel, and other workers are routinely exposed to the hazards of low visibility while on the job. This standard provides guidelines for the selection and use of high-visibility safety apparel such as shirts, rainwear, outerwear, safety vests, and headwear to improve worker visibility during the day, in low-light conditions, and at night. Notable changes from the second edition (ANSI/ISEA 107-2004) include a new requirement for retroreflective material in the shoulder area; clarification of the definitions of waterproof, water resistant, and water repellant; and new labeling and test requirements for flame resistant garments. The appendices have been updated to include additional examples of garment designs and trim patterns such as split trim configurations.


ANSI/ISEA 107 History and Related Regulations


The ANSI/ISEA 107-1999 standard was the first U.S. standard for the design and performance of materials for high-visibility safety apparel. Since 1999, private industry and various federal, state, and local authorities have embraced ANSI/ISEA 107 compliant garments and headwear as useful personal protective equipment for workers exposed to struck-by hazards. In November 2008, 23 CFR part 634 was the first U. S. Federal regulation applied to highway construction, maintenance and utility workers, and required the use of performance ANSI/ISEA 107 Class 2 or 3 garments. The 23 CFR part 634 regulation has been incorporated into the 2009 edition of the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). The MUTCD requires all workers on or near the roadway right-of-way to wear high-visibility safety apparel that meets performance Class 2 or 3 of ANSI 107-2004 or equivalent revisions. The MUTCD cites two special cases.

1.  In addition to ANSI 107, law enforcement personnel and other emergency responders may comply by using ANSI 207-2006 garments.

2. Fire fighters may use retroreflective turnout gear compliant to NFPA standards when exposed to flame, fire, heat and/or hazardous materials during emergency operations.

ANSI/ISEA 107-2010 specifies the following:

•    Design

•    Requirements for Background and Combined-Performance Retroreflective Materials

•    Photometric and Physical Performance Requirements for Retroreflective Materials

•    Care Labeling




Retroreflective, combined-performance, and background materials must be certified to the specific performance requirements in the standard. High-visibility safety apparel manufacturers must make documentation available to verify that the finished garments also meet the requirements of the standard.

Background material: Colored fluorescent material intended to be highly conspicuous, but not intended to comply with the requirements of this standard for retroreflective material. Retroreflective material: Material that reflects and returns a relatively high proportion of light in a direction close to the direction from which it came.

Combined-performance material: A retroreflective material that is also a fluorescent material. Combined-performance materials can be counted toward the minimum area requirements for background material.

Compliance: Retroreflective, combined-performance and background materials are to be certified to the performance requirements in the standard. Manufacturers of the finished garment must make documentation available to verify that components used to make high-visibility garments meet the requirements of the standard.

Certify (background and retroreflective material): To obtain compliance certification documents based on testing from an independent, third party accredited laboratory to verify performance requirements as specified in the standard.

Certify (finished item): To provide documentation from either an independent third-party accredited laboratory or to self-certify through the use of the Apparel and Headwear Compliance Certificate.

Accredited laboratory: A laboratory having a certificate of accreditation meeting the requirements ISO/IEC 17025:2005 General Requirements for the Competence of Testing and Calibration Laboratories (or other equivalent standard) for the collection and analysis of data

within the parameters of this standard.




The ANSI/ISEA 107-2010 standard provides design guidelines and specifies the photometric requirements, minimum amounts of component materials, colors, and placement to create garments and headwear for the purpose of enhancing the visibility of workers. The selection of components and classes of apparel should be made based upon what is appropriate for the hazard and with the safety of the worker in mind.


Component Colors


There are three different colors for background and combined-performance material from which to choose: fluorescent yellow-green, fluorescent orange-red, and fluorescent red. Users should consider the work and natural environment to determine the most conspicuous color for daytime use. Is the environment urban or rural, heavy foliage or desert? Are work zone devices and equipment yellow or orange? Choose the fluorescent color that achieves the highest degree of worker contrast.


Garment Classes


Three classes of high-visibility safety apparel help the user choose the proper garments for a work situation. The classes state the minimal amount of background and retroreflective material, and placement of retroreflective material needed as well as technical requirements for garment design. Garments that cover the torso, such as T-shirts and safety vests, are intended to meet Class 1 or Class 2 requirements. Shorts are included in the description of Class E garments.


Retroreflective Material Placement


Class 1 and 2 garments, such as vests and T-shirts, and Class 3 garment designs, such as vest with Class E pants ensembles, coveralls, outerwear, and rainwear should achieve the following:

•    Use of retroreflective band widths appropriate for the garment class.

•    Provide 360-degree visibility with horizontal gaps of 50 mm or less.

•    Garments without reflective material encircling the sleeves are now required to have 150 square cm of reflective material in the shoulder area, to provide 180-degree visibility of the wearer. Shoulder area is defined as measuring 15 cm down from the shoulder high point, on the front and back of the garment. The requirement of 23.25 square in. is the total amount of reflective material required in the shoulder area including the front and back of the garment, e.g., shoulder area retroreflective material amount front + rear ≥ 23.25 square in.

•    Appropriate separation distances of vertical and horizontal bands placed on the torso, sleeves, and trouser areas.

•    Appropriate retroreflective band placement and garment design.

•    In addition to trim, retroreflective patterns, such as logos, design icons, or identification text may contribute to maximum area requirements.


Requirements for Background and Combined-Performance Materials



Five Steps to Compliance

Step 1: Understand Your Obligations Under Federal Regulations

•  The 2009 MUTCD is the primary regulatory document mandating the use of high-visibility apparel for all affected workers on roadways in the U.S. and will cover all roads “open to public travel.”

•  All workers within the right-of-way are required to wear high-visibility safety apparel that meets performance Class 2 or 3 of ANSI/ISEA 107-2004, or equivalent revisions. For in-depth legislation updates review: MUTCD, OSHA General Duty Clause, OSHA Letter of Interpretation, #20080829-8611, which points to ANSI 107. See special options for Law Enforcement, and Emergency Responders to comply with gear meeting ANSI 207, and NFPA standards (such as NFPA1971)


Step 2: Complete a Risk Assessment for Each Job Function

•  Determine the low-visibility hazards for each job description at your worksite, including:

Workzone Hazards: Roadway traffic speeds, workers’ proximity to traffic and workzone equipment, task load.

Environment Background: Time of day, seasons, weather, temperature exposure, equipment.

Additional Considerations: Workplace exposure, garment appearance, laundry protocol.


Step 3: Identify Garment Options for Each Job Function

•  Based on risk assessment choose Class per ANSI 107-2010 (or 2004).

•  Choose apparel types such as jackets, rainwear, tee-shirts, or vests.

•  Conduct an onsite visibility demonstration and/or wear test to confirm choices.


Step 4: Create Garment Specifications

•  Prepare a specification that ensures that the garments you purchase comply with high visibility standards. Specify certified product only and ensure that the performance, color, sizing, customization, features, care guidelines, comfort, style, and durability desired is received.


Step 5: Implement Garment Program

•  Issue garments to workers.

•  Continuous education and training. Stress the importance of wearing garments in the workplace environment as well as how to wear and maintain the garments, and when to replace them.

•  Repeat assessments as needed and adjust program as necessary.



Section 7 of the standard provides specifications for color, brightness, fabric strength, and moisture resistance after various exposure tests.

•    Background and Combined-Performance material needs to be tested for chromaticity or color, and luminance or brightness, when new and for colorfastness after laundering and Xenon (UV light) exposure.

•    Background materials must also be tested for colorfastness after crocking and perspiration tests.

•    Other tests for background materials include testing for dimensional change (shrinking) after washing and dry-cleaning, tensile strength, tear resistance, bursting strength of woven material, and bursting strength of knitted material.

•    If the garment is intended to provide protection during rainfall, background materials also need to be tested as water repellent, water resistant, and /or water proof.


Photometric and Physical Performance Requirements for Retroreflective and Combined- Performance Materials


Section 8 of the standard specifies photometric and performance requirements for retroreflective and combined-performance materials, such as minimum brightness after test exposure.

•    3M ( retroreflective and combined-performance materials are certified to ANSI/ISEA 107-2010 specifications.

•    All material must meet the minimum brightness requirements after tests for abrasion resistance, flexing, folding at cold temperatures, variation in temperatures, influence of rainfall, and laundering. When washing is indicated on the care label, the number of cycles should

be tested per ISO 6330 Method 2A, 60-degree C, or dry-cleaning per ISO 3759.

•    Combined-performance material must also meet the minimum luminance or brightness factors after a Xenon exposure test (UV light).


Care Labeling, General Marking, and Instructions for Use


Once all materials have been tested against performance requirements and certificates of compliance from a third party testing laboratory have been issued, apparel manufacturers then assemble garments according to the design guidelines in Section 6 of the standard for the appropriate class of garment. Only after all the materials’ performance and design requirements have been met, can a garment be labeled ANSI/ISEA 107-2010 compliant.


Specific Marking


Marking includes the following information:

•    Name, trademark, or other means of identifying the manufacturer or authorized representative.

•    Designation of the product type, commercial name, or code.

•    Size designation.

•    Number of this specific ANSI/ISEA standard (ANSI/ISEA 107-2010).

•    Compliance with flame resistance can be indicated in one of 2 ways:

1. The letters “FR” on the label followed by the designation of the ASTM standard specification from the list of allowed standards.

2. Garments that fully meet the third party certification requirements to NFPA 1971, 1977, or 2112, may use the separate label indicated by the NFPA standard to indicate FR compliance.

•    Pictogram showing the garment Class and Level of performance for the retroreflective material.

•    Care labeling with ASTM D5489-07 symbols and maximum cycles for the cleaning process.

•    Instructions for Use (if applicable).


Six Steps For Selecting High-Visibility Safety Apparel


Step 1: Obtain and review copies of ANSI/ISEA 107-2010 standard and relevant regulations.

Step 2: Conduct a survey of worksite low visibility hazards to determine the appropriate class of garments, as directed by the 2009 MUTCD Section 6D.03 paragraph 03 subparagraph E. Remember that the survey should account for more than speed. Also consider worker proximity to traffic, other prevailing colors, weather conditions, task loads, and the traffic control plan.

Step 3: Working with your safety and design specialists, design concept garments that meet your needs. Remember to take a comprehensive approach to garment design to balance your requirements for garment functionality, comfort, and durability. An ISEA study of construction work zones found that non-use of garments is related to lack of comfort and style. These issues can be addressed effectively through appropriate designs.

Step 4: Review your design choice with a visibility demonstration and/or wear test.

Step 5: Write a specification based on specific performance criteria. Require use of certified components only.

Step 6: When the safety apparel is issued to your workers, provide them with training that explains the purpose and use of their new high-visibility garments.