What are the different classes of safety apparel?
The CSA Standard Z96-15 High-Visibility Safety Apparel sets out levels of retroreflective performance (i.e., the effectiveness of material in returning light to its source), the colours and luminosity of background materials, and how much of the body that should be covered by the high-visibility components. There are also special requirements for garments that to provide electrical flash and flame protection. Note that although specifications for apparel Classes are similar to those in ANSI/ISEA 107, these CSA Classes differ in that they specify body coverage rather than minimum areas.
CSA lists three classes of garments based on body coverage provided. Each class covers the torso (waist to neck) and/or limbs according to the minimum body coverage areas specified for each class.
Class 1 provides the lowest recognized coverage and good visibility.
Class 2 provides moderate body coverage and superior visibility.
Class 3 provides the greatest body coverage and visibility under poor light conditions and at great distance.
Details for each of the classes are listed below. For more details on the exact specifications, please refer to the Standard. (Note: While the Standard does not provide specifications for the application of high-visibility apparel to specific job types, the Guide does provide some examples of jobs where the different classes may be appropriate.)
Most industrial companies will only accept class 2, Level 2 safety vest so be aware of the requirements before acquire such a vest.
What should I look for in High-Visibility Safety Apparel?
Large, bright garments are more visible than small ones. Coverage all around the body (360° full body coverage) provides better visibility in all viewing directions.
Stripes of colours that contrast (have a distinct colour difference) with the background material to provide good visibility. Stripes on the arms and legs can provide visual clues about the motion of the person wearing the garment.
When background material is bright-coloured or fluorescent material, it is intended to be highly visible, but is not intended to provide retroreflective performance.
Other requirements such as flame resistance, thermal performance, water resistance, durability, comfort, tear-away features, material breathability and flexibility that are applicable to the job.
Employers should select the colour and stripe combination that provides the preferred contrast and visual indication of movement.
For safety and best performance, garments should be fitted to the person. Don’t forget to consider the bulk of clothing that might be worn underneath the garments, and how the garment should be worn (i.e., done up properly around the body with no loose or dangling components). The garments should sit correctly on your body and stay in place during your work.
The apparel should be comfortable to wear – the parts of the apparel that come into direct contact with the worker should not be rough, have sharp edges, or projections that could cause excessive irritation or injuries. The apparel should also be lightweight.
Garments should be selected and worn so that no other clothing or equipment covers the high-visibility materials (e.g., glove gauntlets, equipment belts, and high-cut boots).
Daylight – Bright colours are more visible than dull colours under daylight conditions (e.g. fluorescent materials are suitable for daylight).
Low light conditions – Fluorescent colours are more effective than bright colours under low light (e.g. dawn and dusk). Under these conditions, reflective materials are also suggested.
Dark conditions/worksites – Greater retroreflectivity provides greater visibility under low light conditions. Retroreflective materials provide high-visibility conditions and are preferred over bright colours. Fluorescent materials are ineffective at night and less visible than white fabrics.
To comply with the CSA Standard, the HVSA should meet the following criteria for the stripes/bands:
A waist-level horizontal stripe/band that goes completely around the HVSA.
Two vertical stripes on the front passing over the shoulders and down to the waist.
A symmetric “X” on the back extending from the shoulders to the waist.
For Class 3 apparel, stripes/bands encircling both arms and both legs are added.
For all classes, the CSA Z96-15 High-Visibility Safety Apparel Standard specifies both the colour of the background and the stripes/bands. Class 1 (e.g., harness style) must have a minimum of 0.14 metres squared of background material. Background material should be one of fluorescent yellow-green, fluorescent orange-red or fluorescent red; or one of bright yellow-green, or bright orange-red.