"The safety vest of a construction worker got caught in a hand auger being used for drilling. The massive impact of the operational auger not only tore away the worker's safety vest but also caused serious chest injuries. Fortunately, another fellow worker immediately used the emergency stop button so the injured worker could be saved. The wounded worker received stitches and had to take a few days off. While the worker had to forego working for a few days, the construction company lost important resources in terms of precious manpower. "
This situation is familiar to those in the construction industry. Not that it happens frequently, safety clothing getting caught in the surrounding equipment is still a matter of grave concern. Such unintended events at times may even turn fatal, not to mention the serious legal hassles employers may find themselves into.
Wearing personal protective gear is a significant step towards loss prevention, a critical aspect of environmental construction. Safety vests are commonly used high visibility protective jackets made from sturdy mesh material. Those wearing safety vests can be seen from large distances and even under dreary climatic conditions. Providing more safety to operators who handle heavy equipment are tear away vests which pull apart on getting entangled.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) specifies guidelines for protective gear including safety vests, pants, overalls, jackets and rain wear. ANSI recommends a five point tear away safety vest which easily comes apart at sides, shoulders and in front. Other ANSI recommended features of safety vests are –
Use of retro-reflective stripes on the vest to make the wearer maximally visible.
Use of reflective fabric in bold colors to increase overall visibility of the wearer.
Sufficiently loose to allow users the freedom to move as necessary yet fitting enough so no flowing ends get stuck in machinery.
- Easy to wear and remove.
ANSI recommendations classify safety vests into three categories –
Class I – These vests are appropriate for relatively less dangerous jobs.
Class II – These are ideal for workers who work under riskier conditions such as roadways construction and maintenance, railroad inspection, cargo loading personnel in shipyards, and airlines luggage handlers.
Class III – These vests provide enhanced visibility by highlighting the users' arms and legs so workers are noticeable even in vehicular headlights at night. Depending on the type of work being done, Class III vests are best suited for construction workers.
Clearly, protective vests form an important link in ensuring health and safety of the workers. By law, all construction workers should wear safety vests when on site.