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WorkSafeBC crackdown on Safety Apparel – Are you wearing right?

A construction site worker written up by WorkSafeBC for wearing a high visibility safety vest that was black. WorkSafeBC is very clear about the safety apparel approved for wear in every situation. In every case, the colour choices are clear:

G8.24 High Visibility Apparel

Issued August 1, 1999;
Editorial Revision April 2005

Type 1 – Vest, shirt or other similar garment, worn on the torso, with a fluorescent background and attached visibility-enhancing trim.

Type 2 – Jacket, coat, coverall or other garment with a bright coloured background and attached visibility enhancing trim.

Type 3 – A harness or suspender-type of garment worn on the torso, fabricated from parallel strips of contrasting colours. The harness has fluorescent and retroreflective properties.

Since these non-standard vests came on the market, they became quite popular and did meet CSA standards. What many failed to realize is that WorkSafeBC, and other regulatory provincial bodies, also set their own minimum requirements that further refine the acceptable criteria. What we fail to see is the finer details, just like the notes above.

First, reading quickly we see that all the high visibility colours are required, without noticing that they’re being specific as well about the background – or body of the vest/jacket.

WorkSafeBC, and other provincial regulatory sites are not always easy to navigate, intrepret, and understand. After spending three days researching online at every provincial site, the findings came back inconclusive about the specifics for safety apparel criteria for all provinces. The easiest and clearest site / regulations, in fact, do come via the WorkSafeBC site. Other provinces, there seems to be some latitude available – unless someone can point us to the correct link that does specify the criteria in detail.

British Columbia companies need to take special precautions to ensure they are compliant and not buying into the dark coloured safety vests with high visibility trim. Even though they are CSA Class 1, they are not WorkSafeBC compliant.

For more details and specifics on the High Visibility Safety Apparel, please visit WorkSafeBC OHS Regulation & Guidelines Part 8 – High Visibility and Distinguishing Apparel.

Do not fail to notice the Disclaimer posted at the bottom of the page. This page is guideline material only and is not as complete as the Regulations.

Please visit WCB Standards: WCB Standard: PPE 2 High Visibility Garment – Personal Protective Equipment Standard 2 to view the complete standards – some excerpts quoted below.

Requirements Applying To All Types of High Visibility Garments

The background material in florescent or bright color in yellow, orange or red must meet the chromaticity coordinates and minimum luminance factor specified in Table 1 [bottom of page].

This part of the standard very clearly illustrates that anything other than florescent or bright colors (yellow, orange, or red) must be used.

In an environment where loose fitting clothing may be caught by moving equipment or other stationary objects, high visibility garments must have “tear away” properties. An example of this is the use of VelcroTM strips for the fastening of the garment.

Many workers find tear-aways to be very annoying to wear. Seen here, there is an important consideration for having a standard for tear-away vests. 

Next in the standard they discuss the minimum requirements for the flourescent trim/striping that adds to the high visibility. Visit the WCB Standard: PPE 2 High Visibility Garment – Personal Protective Equipment Standard 2 for more.

Additional In-Depth Detail for the Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3 Garments approved by WorkSafeBC.

Type 1 Garments

The garment background must be florescent lime yellow, florescent yellow, or florescent orange colored.

The minimum vertical length for both front and back of the garment is 0.61 metres (24 inches).

The minimum background area for either the front or the back of the garment is 0.13 square metres (200 square inches).

The florescent portion of the VE trim for either the front or the back of the garment must have a minimum area of 0.05 square metres (80 square inches).

Type 2 Garments

The background of the garment must be either florescent lime yellow, florescent yellow, bright yellow, florescent orange, bright orange or bright red.

The minimum vertical length for both front and back of the garment is 0.61 metres (24 inches).

The minimum background area for either the front or the back of the garment is 0.258 square metres (400 square inches).

The florescent portion of the VE trim for either the front or the back of the garment must have a minimum area of 0.05 square metres (80 square inches).

Type 3 Garments

The garment background must be florescent lime yellow, florescent yellow, or florescent orange colored.

The minimum background area for either the front or the back of the garment is 0.064 square metres (100 square inches).

The minimum vertical length for both front and back of the garment is 0.51 metres (20 inches).

The florescent portion of the VE trim for either the front or the back of the garment must have a minimum area of 0.064 square metres (100 square inches).

The garment must be designed so that there is color contrast along the entire length of at least one side of the VE trim.

On a final note, some individuals may still opt to purchase non-standard safety wear. Be advised that you do so at your own risk. Many suppliers serve multiple provinces and have access to non-standard wear. In provinces where it is accepted, obviously there is no issue. In British Columbia, however, all sales of non-standard safety wear must be considered as a sale of a novelty vest, or personal vest.

Additional Resources:

If you have further resources and reference material that can be linked to this article for other readers, please use comments below to share your insight and knowledge.

Discussion

One Response to “WorkSafeBC crackdown on Safety Apparel – Are you wearing right?”

  1. Though I am not allowed to wear a black vest with the minumum requirements of VE stripes I am allowed to wear a “Harness Type” hi-viz over a black t-shirt . Doesn’t make much sense as my black vest has far more VE then any harness I’ve come across.

    Posted by chris | August 13, 2014, 7:10 am

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