Safety Topic Of The Day: The Birth Of Hi-Visible Clothing

Hello Everyone!

Well, my friend, we made it to another Monday shift here on my residential construction jobsite here in the concrete jungle that is New York City. I hope you are doing well? Each day, it is getting cooler with a dusting of AM snow on occasion. I apologize for not writing in quite awhile. I know that you are awaiting my next blog post (a dash of sarcasm). I’ve been rather occupied the past few weeks and I have not released any new posts. Last week, I went away with my lady friends on a Carribean cruise. Sadly, I returned to snow this past weekend. Of course, I had my hands full preparing for my departure within the week before the vacation. I even debated with myself about bringing my laptop on vacation with me. My initial thought was that I may want to blog while relaxing on my balcony. At the last minute, I left the laptop home and opted to just relax and enjoy the new adventure. I think leaving the electronics home was a great idea after all. Purchasing wifi on the ship was a costly expense that I was able to pass up. I’m now back with a goal to offer you even more bathroom throne reading material. Before I offer you the next safety topic of choice, I’m honored to share some links and updates on my other projects. My objective is to try to get back into releasing some more episodes on my Verbally Disastrous podcast. It’s tough when I have different things on my plate during the course of the day. My established “$ugar Momma Baddie” themed clothing and accessory collection is available on both Spring and Shopify ecommerce platforms. Check out the two designs that you can choose from: 1) Feisty Lady Trio 2) Sugar Momma Bed. The “$ugar Momma Baddie” Shopify and Spring store links are down below in this safety topic blog post. The links for the paperback, e-book, and now audio version for my first children’s book that’s entitled, “Not All Girls Play With Dolls” are also down below in this blog post. Both my first children’s book and my #ConstructionTales book are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, and Audible. The audio versions of both of my books can be found in four Audible markets that include: France, Dutch, U.K., and the United States. Now that I’ve wrapped up my “Leslie’s book ad”, let’s review this next safety topic. I figured that I might as well as deep dive into the different required personal protective equipment components that are required on the average New York City project.

I chose to research and discuss the invention and history of high visible clothing. As with any previously chosen subjects, I did learn some new details during my search. Therefore, I’m happy to share with you what I discovered. Firstly, what is high visible clothing? High-visibility clothing, sometimes shortened to “hi-vis” or “hi-viz”, is any clothing worn that is highly luminescent in its natural property or a color that is easily discernible from any background. It is most commonly worn on the torso and arm area of the body to make the worker more visible to others. Many current health and safety regulations, especially on the federal level, often require the use of high visibility clothing as it is a form of personal protective equipment. The main objective of wearing this type of clothing is so that operators of motorized vehicles can see the person from a distance and avoid an accident. Industries that can require employees to wear high visible clothing include: construction sites, traffic management, security, maintenance services, offshore activities, military, mining, and manufacturing. Who started this high visibility movement? American inventor Bob Switzer is credited on the internet with being the founding father of the high visible paint. This paint was first used for creating the brightly colored fabric that became high visible clothing. Bob’s story of how he became interested in creating highly visible safety clothing is super unique. Bob was involved in a significant accident, during the summer of 1933, while removing a load of tomatoes from a freight car while at work. At the time of the accident, Bob was working at a Heinz company laboratory that was out of Berkeley, California. While in the process of relocating the bulk tomato delivery, Bob had tripped, had taken a nasty fall, and suffered several serious injuries. Bob’s major injuries included: a skull fracture and a severed optic nerve. Bob was told by doctors to stay in a dark room until he fully recovered his eyesight. This recovery period lasted for several grueling months for Bob. This major jobsite catastrophe became a major pivotal point in Bob’s life. This incident marked the birth of Bob’s crusade to create high visible clothing in an effort to help fellow industry professionals avoid accidents in the future.

While he was on the mend after this major workplace accident, Bob and his brother Joe began experimenting with colors and chemicals. These bright paint concoctions were initially intended to be used, for entertainment purposes, with magic tricks. Legend has it that Bob tested his experimental paints on his wife’s wedding dress. Miraculously, Bob survived a second time to create ‘Day Glo’ paint with his brother. Word on the street was that Mrs. Switzer had the first glow in the dark wedding dress in the world. She was either highly disgusted with her husband’s messy antics or willfully riding shotgun with her family to become a global trendsetter. I’m imagining her being a trendsetter since she more than likely won’t wear that dress more than once. After all, he was developing a multi-million dollar empire with the ability to buy Ms. Switzer any dress that she wanted. The Switzer brothers continued to perfect their high visibility concoctions through trial and error. By the time of World War II, this is when their paint technology grew in popularity with a surge in demand. They even continued with branching out into different arenas with their experimental innovations. While experimenting with different colors, a black light, and some shellac, the first black light fluorescent paint was born. The two brothers founded their first business venture, known as Fluor-S-Art Co., in 1934. The dynamic duo also went on to establish the Day-Glo Colour Corporation in 1946. The Day-Glo Colour Corporation proceeded to be responsible for developing a number of fluorescent paints and pigments for high visible clothing. In addition to hi-vis clothing, the Switzer siblings also branched out to use their fluorescent dye for testing and diagnostic purposes. By 1938, Bob and Joe invented both Zyglo and Magnaglo. These two nondestructive fluorescent dyes are used in a testing processes to identify defects in machined parts. The dyes work to penetrate small defects that can be seen when inspecting the parts under a black light. These two color magicians were so innovative and some pioneers that were ahead of their time. Let’s branch out and see how high visible clothing was launched outside the United States.

In the United Kingdom, high visibility work clothing was first introduced by the Glaswegian railway maintenance workers back in 1964 on a trial basis. Based upon my research, it appears that the railway workers were the first to wear high visible clothing in the entire world. Over the years, high visible clothing has proven to be highly effective at reducing accidents and has seen such a huge increase in popularity. During my research on this topic, I discovered that UK workwear specialists had reported a 22% rise in the sales of high-visible apparel as of the years 2008/2009. By the end of years 2009/2010, clothing manufacturers saw another 26% increase in sales of high-visible clothing purchases. More and more employers, within different business sectors, are seeing the value of using high-visible clothing. I also learned that the United Kingdom Parliament implemented their own form of OSHA by passing the “1974 Health and Safety At Work Act”. Additionally, the “Personal Protective Equipment At Work Regulations of 1992” legislation was also passed to protect workers in the United Kingdom. Both major pieces of legislation were passed in an effort to place legal safeguards for employees who are working in potentially hazardous environments. The most recent legislation requires employers to supply workers with proper personal protective equipment (PPE) that match the hazardous jobsite conditions. According to, the global value of high-visible apparel is estimated to be valued at $1.2 billion dollars (USD) as of 2021. The market is expected to reach a value of $2.9 billion dollars by 2031. Like with any personal protective equipment requirement, I’m sure that insurance companies are the main driver behind the requirement. Then again, if it wasn’t actually effective at reducing accidents, would there be a need for this PPE equipment?

Once this brightly crafted clothing line proved that it was successful with reducing accidents, governing bodies around the globe started making them mandatory on the job. The U.S. industry standards that govern hi-vis clothing come from American National Standards Institute (ANSI). In Canada, the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) governs that specific jurisdiction. The U.S. industry standard sections can be found under either ANSI/ISEA 107 or CSA Z96. In the UK, the regulations that govern the standards are under EN ISO 20471 certification with three classes that range from Class 1 to Class 3. Meanwhile, over in Australia and New Zealand, they follow two main industry standard sections: 1) AS/NZS 4602.1:2011 2) AS/NZS 1906.4:2010 Part 4 with three different classes: 1) D 2) N 3) D/N. Background colors that adhere to the many international industry standards are: Lime Green, Orange, or Red (colors considered fluorescent). If you see other high visible colors, such as fluorescent pink, they do not technically fall within the industry standards. As you can see on a global level, the industry standard regulations are broken down into different types and classes. What is the purpose of breaking them all down? The classes are all defined by the minimum amount of background and retro-reflective material. Additionally, there is a configuration of the retro-reflective material as well as other technical garment design requirements. Here are the types of classes that are used to categorize high-visible clothing standards as per American National Standards Institute (ANSI) regulations:

ANSI Type O, Class 1 – Performance Class 1 offers the minimum amount of high visibility materials to differentiate the wearer from non-complex work environments and is only appropriate for off-road environments.

ANSI Type R or P, Class 2 – Performance Class 2 is considered the minimum level of protection for workers exposed to roadway rights-of-way and temporary traffic control (TTC) zones. Garments will have additional amounts of high visibility materials that allow for better definition of the human form.

ANSI Type R or P, Class 3 – Performance Class 3 provides more visibility to the wearer in both complex backgrounds and through a full range of movement by the required placement of background, retroreflective, and combined performance materials on the sleeves and pant legs (if present). Garments have an even a greater minimum level of high visibility material the apparel must contain. A garment or vest without sleeves worn alone is NOT considered Class 3 protection.

ANSI Class E – High visibility garments that do not qualify as meeting the requirements of the standard when worn alone, but when a Class E item is worn with a Class 2 or Class 3 garment, the overall classification of the ensemble is Class 3.

Here in the United States, all public access roadways are governed by federal legislation. Additionally, these federal rules are enforceable by OSHA inspectors. The 2009 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) was developed from 23 CFR Part 634. The Federal Highway Worker Visibility Rule (23 CFR Sec. 634) was the first step in the creation of the U.S. comprehensive worker high visibility regulation. During my research, I learned that there is both “high visibility” and “enhanced visibility”. Construction clothing that’s identified as enhanced visibility is a reference for any garment of any color that has retro-reflective striping added to it in any configuration. Surprisingly enough, these garments are not typically ANSI compliant. Ideally, they are intended for workers who labor within lower risk environments. Despite not being ANSI compliant, these workers can still benefit from the extra security of heightened visibility while working within low light conditions. To be totally clear, ANSI is a voluntary consensus standard and NOT a requirement on every construction jobsite. The only time it is a requirement is if either ownership or the general contractor of a jobsite specifically requires workers to wear high visibility clothing. However, it is most certainly required on federal roadway projects. Firefighter equipment also follows ANSI and local jurisdiction regulations since fire department standards are governed under each local fire department laws, codes, and regulations.

I investigated the various arenas within DOT, OSHA, and New York City Department of Buildings in an effort to show you where in the code it says that high visible clothing is required to be worn. My first stop was sifting through the Department of Transportation. Since this is a federal agency, I know that DOT workers are definitely required to wear high visible clothing. Here is the DOT section that I found pertaining to the requirement. “All DOT employees within the highway right-of-way shall wear high-visibility apparel meeting American National Standards Institute 107 – Class II and/or Class III standards for conspicuity AND meets NYSDOT approved garments. High-visibility apparel shall not be purchased without approval by Main Office or Regional Employee Safety & Health.” I also looked on the OSHA website to see the verbiage on their position on the subject matter. Overall, when a worker is subjected to motorized vehicles on or near a federal highway, such as being a flagger or a road worker, they are required to wear high visible clothing. I will provide a link to the high visible clothing requirement discussion down at the bottom of this discussion. I even double checked and reviewed the current 2008 NYC building code within the section that governs my construction industry that is known as: “Chapter 33: Safeguards During Construction or Demolition”. Additionally, I spoke with my fellow site safety manager co-workers. Based upon my investigation, there is no Department of Buildings code section that speaks on having high visible clothing as a requirement on the jobsite. As I previously stated in the post, the requirement is site specific and hinges upon the requirements of leadership on a specific jobsite.

As I had also shared previously, the U.S. Army took an interest in the Switzer brother’s high visible paint technology during war time efforts. There was an issue with the military being exposed to friendly fire in urban locations. The U.S. government knew that they needed to reduce the friendly fire incidents by making soldiers more visible. The U.S. military approved of the Day-Glo fabric panels that were dipped in the reflective paint and added to soldier uniforms. Soldiers who were wearing these unique pieces of fabric could signal to airplanes far above them. The objective is to signal the pilots above to make them aware of their presence. Additionally, aircraft crews also started to wear high visibility safety vests and uniform pants while they directed airplanes on landing strips at military air bases. The need for reflective material even found a need out on the open oceans. The Navy used buoys, laden with reflective strips, that are intended to signal that a body of water was for ships to pass in. In addition to being highly visible, they can also be flame retardant. If you look around today, high visibility technology is used within many realms of society. After reading this blog post, it will cause you to look around in your surroundings for this type of safety technology. Let’s look at the top 12 leading global vendors of high visible technology:

  • 1) Ansell
  • 2) Honeywell
  • 3) Lakeland Industries
  • 4) 3M
  • 5) Bulwark
  • 6) ASATEX
  • 7) Ballyclare
  • 8) Kermel
  • 9) Nasco Industries
  • 10) National Safety Apparel
  • 11) OccuNomix
  • 12) True North Gear

Link On Discussion On High Visible PPE Requirements:

I do believe that I have covered this safety topic like a blanket. It was somewhat of a challenge to dig even deeper as I wanted to do so. I’m always welcome to suggestions on expanding on my talking points on the topic. I also welcome new safety topics that you want to learn about as well. Of course there are different blog posts to choose from if this particular topic didn’t interest you. If this topic was boring, be sure to eloquently state why down in my comment section below. Then again, if that was the case, you couldn’t have reached this far in the post. I personally would love to know some local facts on this topic. Let me know and I will edit and give you credit for your contribution to the topic. I encourage you to share your random thoughts with me on the subject matter. Don’t forget to follow me at leslie_m_jasper on Tik Tok or Verbally Disastrous on YouTube. Share your feedback on my content down in the comment section at the bottom of the blog post. If you appreciate listening to podcasts, I encourage you to review my last (8) podcast episodes that are listed down below from The Verbally Disastrous Podcast, via links for Spotify & YouTube down below. If you are into reading on a Kindle, check out my newest short story release that belongs to my Construction Tales-Told By A Woman Kindle Vella Library short story series on Amazon down below. My last short story #11 is entitled, “Juggling Motherhood & Working With The Tools”. This short story covers my life as a widowed, single mother in the era when I juggled both motherhood and my career as a journeywoman electrician. The previous short story is #10 is entitled, “Early Life Lessons & Characters To Meet As An Apprentice”. If anyone has read any of my other previous short stories, let me know your thoughts? Feel free to go ahead and check out the many links for my book #ConstructionTales down below. It’s time to disconnect your mind from the subject matter and go back to your daily grind. We shall re-connect when I’m able to offer another blog topic for your review. I wish you a great morning/afternoon/evening on your side of the globe and a restful or productive day!

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Photo Credit: Safety First Training Academy Logo
Audio Credit: Not All Girls Play With Dolls-Now On Audible!!

Not All Girls Play With Dolls- Within The U.S. Market:

Not All Girls Play With Dolls- Within The U.K. Market:

Not All Girls Play With Dolls- Within The France Market:

Not All Girls Play With Dolls- Within The Dutch Market:

Link To Construction Tales: Volume I: A Woman’s Journey To Become An Electrician (Paperback & Kindle) On Amazon:

Link To Construction Tales: A Young Person’s Guide To Accomplish Anything In Life (Paperback & Kindle) On Amazon:

U.S.A.: Use This Link For The Audio Version Of My Book #ConstructionTales On Audible:

United Kingdom: Use This Link For The Audio Version Of My Book #ConstructionTales On Audible:

France, Belgium, Switzerland: Use This Link For The Audio Version Of My Book #ConstructionTales On Audible:

Germany, Austria, Switzerland: Use This Link For The Audio Version Of My Book #ConstructionTales On Audible:


Here is the link to the Verbally Disastrous Podcast on Spotify:

Verbally Disastrous-On Spotify

Verbally Disastrous! Season #1, Episode #43: Part A- Tramping In Cali! on YouTube:

Verbally Disastrous! Season #1, Episode #44: Part B- Tramping In Cali! on YouTube:

Verbally Disastrous! Season #1, Episode #45: Part C- Tramping In Cali! on YouTube:

Verbally Disastrous! Season #2, Episode #46:Early Life Lessons & Characters To Meet As An Apprentice On YouTube:

Verbally Disastrous Podcast! S#2, Ep. #47: Part A- Juggling Motherhood & Working With The Tools on YouTube:

Verbally Disastrous Podcast! S#2, Ep. #48: Part B- Juggling Motherhood & Working With The Tools on YouTube:

Verbally Disastrous Podcast- S#2, Episode #49: Just Released Not All Girls Play With Dolls!! on YouTube:

Verbally Disastrous Podcast- S#2, Episode #50: My First 7 Weeks As A Site Safety Manager on YouTube:

I shared my latest short story that has been loaded up to my Construction Tales-Told By A Woman Kindle Vella Library on Amazon. This is short story #11 entitled, “Juggling Motherhood & Working With The Tools”. This short story covers my life as a widowed, single mother in the era when I juggled both motherhood and my career as a journeywoman electrician. I share the various challenges I faced and lessons learned along the way. The previous short story is entitled: #10: “Early Life Lessons & Characters To Meet As An Apprentice”. I decided to write about some life lessons such as guarding your personal information, managing nasty rumors, combating sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and racism. Overall, the construction culture has improved dramatically over the past 25-years. Developing both a thick skin and a sharp tongue are key tools needed to survive various jobsite antics. I hope you learn something from this short story. There are more to come. These short stories are now also available as Verbally Disastrous podcast episodes.

Construction Tales- Told By A Woman: (11) Kindle Vella Short Stories On Amazon!!

The Verbally Disastrous Store On Tee-Spring:

Leslie M. Jasper

-Author And Host of the #VerballyDisastrous podcast now alive on many platforms that include: Acast, Amazon Music, Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Castbox, Deezer, Google Podcasts, I Heart Radio, Listen Notes, Overcast, Pandora Podcasts, Player FM, Pocket Casts, Pod Bean, Podchaser, Podcast Addict, Podcast Gang, Radio Public, Reason, Soundcloud, Soundtrap, Spotify, Stitcher, Tune In, and YouTube.

-The Audio Blog: Verbally Disastrous Podcast And Construction Tales Blog. Now available on: Acast, Amazon Music, Anchor, Apple Podcasts, Breaker, Castbox, Deezer, Google Podcasts, I Heart Radio, Listen Notes, Overcast, Pandora Podcasts, Player FM, Pocket Casts, Pod Bean, Podchaser, Podcast Addict, Podcast Gang, Radio Public, Reason, Soundcloud, Spotify, Stitcher, and Tune In.

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