Safe Parking – Part 5: Special Safety Equipment

SUBJECT: Safety Procedures When Working In or Near Moving Traffic TOPIC: Highway Safety Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Signaling Equipment OBJECTIVE: Understand the specifications, application...


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SUBJECT: Safety Procedures When Working In or Near Moving Traffic
TOPIC: Highway Safety Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Signaling Equipment
OBJECTIVE: Understand the specifications, application, and use of special safety equipment when working in or near moving traffic
TASK: Upon study of this material, a responder shall be able to demonstrate proper donning of personal PPE and use of highway safety equipment and signaling devices

Let’s look at highway safety equipment, starting with the most important item, your personal protective equipment (PPE). Section 6E.02 of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) states that workers shall wear bright, highly visible clothing when working in or near moving traffic. This guideline includes fire/rescue personnel, EMS crews, law enforcement officials and even tow truck operators.

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Courtesy of Mifflin Valley Reflective Apparel
Features of ANSI-compliant highway safety vests include the lime-green or orange main vest color with the contrasting color stripes and reflective trim.

Highway Safety Garment Classifications

Class I highway safety vests are appropriate when traffic speeds are less than 25 mph, workers are separated from approaching traffic and workers can give their undivided attention to oncoming traffic.
Class II vests are normally specified when traffic speeds exceed 25 mph, work takes place in or near moving traffic, during inclement weather, and the workers’ tasks occasionally divert their attention from traffic.
Class III garments offer the greatest visibility to workers in high-risk environments that involve high task loads, a wide range of weather conditions and traffic exceeding 50 mph. The design of Class III garments allows workers to be conspicuous through a full range of body motions at a minimum of 1,280 feet, and when the workers must focus all their attention on their work and not traffic.

The International Safety Equipment Association, in an attempt to decrease the chances of roadside worker death, has published the American National Standard for High-Visibility Safety Apparel (ANSI/ISEA 107 1999) standard in 1999. This is a recommended national standard developed to guide employers when choosing worker highway safety vests, jackets and other safety garments. Essentially, emergency responders should wear Class III at all times when working incidents in or near moving traffic. In lieu of a safety vest, full structural PPE is acceptable assuming the reflective trim material is in good working order.

There are three classes of ANSI-compliant safety vests, based on the combined amount of daytime fluorescent background material and retro-reflective material for nighttime visibility. Class III garments are the highest rated and most highly visible.

Class III garments can be specially designed vests, high-visibility jackets, pants or rainwear. The ANSI protective gear standard specifically recommends Class III garments for all emergency responders and accident site investigators. MUTCD Section 6E.02 specifically recommends that law enforcement officials use high-visibility clothing when working highway incidents. Class III vests or jackets should be required to be worn by all responders at highway incidents. An interesting video news clip demonstrating retro reflective Class III garments is available here.

In addition to the visibility classes, high-visibility fabrics are also rated as one of three distinct levels of protection. A Level I garment has high-visibility. A Level II garment has high-visibility and flame retardance. Level III garments provide high-visibility, flame-retardance and electric-arc-resistant burn protection.

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Photo By Ron Moore
At least one NFPA 1500-compliant retro-reflective fluorescent pink highway warning sign should be deployed upstream of the incident to advise approaching traffic of the emergency scene ahead.
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