According to the National Safety Council (NSC), all the most common workplace injuries—overextension; contact with objects and equipment; and slips, trips, and falls—are entirely preventable. And it might shock you to find out that the same goes for the majority of the most common causes of workplace fatalities. Multiple safety measures must be taken, but wearing the right personal protective equipment (PPE) is one surefire method of incident prevention. The correct high visibility work gear prevents potentially devastating on-the-job accidents and even fatalities.
At its most basic level, high visibility apparel for the workplace can help prevent potentially devastating accidents from occurring regardless of the demands of the job site. When selected for a specific job role or industry, they can bring broad-spanning benefits that safeguard you from the specific risks you face day in and day out. In this guide, we’re going to cover some of the most basic kinds of hi vis safety gear proven to help minimize job site accidents. From head to toe, HiVis Supply can help you stay protected and safe at work without compromising your comfort.
Knowing the Risk of Your Industry
What kind of safety gear should you wear to minimize risk? The simple answer is this: It depends. As longtime suppliers of some of the best personal protective equipment (PPE) and high visibilty safety apparel around, we know that workplace risk factors vary widely from one industry to the next. Those who work in public safety, transportation, construction, utilities, road maintenance, warehousing, and manufacturing are especially susceptible to workplace accidents and fatalities.
Each industry presents its own unique risks. If you work in manufacturing, you have to consider things like exposure to toxic chemicals and heavy machinery. If you’re a construction professional, some of your risks come from working at heights or struck by hazards.
Simply put, there’s no one-size-fits-all work safety uniform for all industries. To know which kind of gear you need, you need to look to professional organizations, industry leaders, and the guidelines set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Browse the suggestions below for some commonly recommended pieces of workplace safety gear to consider adding to your arsenal.
Head & Face Protection
Those who work on job sites with hazards from fallen objects are at a greater risk for traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and concussions. Though we don’t have widespread data to indicate the frequency of brain injuries across all industries, we do know that they’re especially prevalent in construction. Sadly, the construction industry reports the highest number of fatal and nonfatal brain injuries in U.S. workplaces each year, accounting for a quarter of all fatalities in construction. Proper head protection saves lives. It’s as simple as that.
Hard Hats can prevent serious fallen objects accidents from becoming potentially life-threatening. They are designed to shield the skull and brain from falling objects, blunt objects, and electrocution. Indeed, a high-quality hard hat can add an extra layer of protection to the head, but that’s not the only benefit it brings. These essential pieces of workplace safety gear can also provide a convenient place to attach a light so you can see better in low-lit conditions. What’s more, high visibility hard hats can help increase your visibility while working in traffic or around heavy machinery.
Safety eyewear and work goggles are designed to protect your eyes from small parts, machinery, and dangerous materials or chemicals while on the job. Choosing the right kind of Safety Glasses is crucial to ensuring that you get all the benefits of wearing them while at work. You must select secure-fitting eyewear that you can wear comfortably with your hard hat and, if working outside, wear a pair that protects from damaging UVA/UVB rays. If you have glasses, always wear contacts or select fit-over safety glasses that are designed for wear alongside your prescription glasses.
When we think about workplace safety, we’re often thinking about dangerous chemicals and machinery, when in reality the weather can be just as much as a threat. OSHA reports that thousands of workers suffer from occupational heat exposure each year, with some of these cases resulting in fatalities. Cooling Bandanas and cooling towels can help keep you cool while at work, reducing heat stroke and stress.
Sun shades can be worn beneath a hat or hard hat to protect the face and neck from damaging UV rays. They can help keep the face and neck protected against sunburn while also preventing heat stroke. If you work outside, you may want to consider wearing a sunshade that attaches to your hard hat and drapes over the neck to help prevent heat stress without compromising on-the-job safety.
Hats do a lot of heavy lifting for high-risk workers, offering protection against impact (such as falling objects) while also helping to prevent sun damage and loss of vision due to glare. What’s more, high visibility hats are worn to help workers stay visible and easily identifiable on dangerous job sites, especially when working in or near traffic. Work safety hats come in all shapes and styles, from shading safari hats to high visibility baseball caps that add an extra pop of fluorescence to your work uniform.
Unfortunately, it is estimated that 30 million American workers are exposed to noise high enough to cause irreversible hearing loss, but preventative measures can help significantly. Ear plugs and ear muffs should be worn in loud workplaces to protect against excessive noise, including abrasive blasting, needle gunning, scaling, grinding, pneumatic pumps, and more. OSHA sets forth stringent requirements to help workers conserve their hearing on the job.
The torso is one of the body’s largest segments, which means it’s crucial when considering on-the-job safety, especially when it comes to finding proper high visibility gear. You need to think about your midsection as one of the most important parts of your body to protect because, of course, it houses the vast majority of the body’s vital organs. Impact to the chest or stomach could be fatal, but safety gear can keep you protected and visible to minimize the risk.
- Vests – Wearing a high visibility safety vest can help ensure that you’re easy to spot no matter the weather. Vests are convenient to throw on over your work shirts or jackets, so they’re great for keeping in your truck or locker in case you need to enter a scenario where visibility is key. Choose high vis vests that are certified to the right ANSI class to ensure that you’re wearing the appropriate gear for your specific job. Be sure to adapt your vest for the seasons. During the summer, you should consider wearing a cooling vest to help prevent heat stroke. In the winter, wear a quilted vest to seal in warmth.
- Shirts – Like vests, high-quality safety shirts can be used as a powerful tool for keeping you visible while on the job. On top of that, they can serve as base layers or mid layers to help keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Like high visibility vests, high visibility shirts can be rated to different ANSI classes and other safety standards to ensure that they are suitable for the specific job site or work environment.
- Jackets – The right work jacket can bring all kinds of benefits, from safety to convenience to comfort. In the fall and winter, a warm work coat can help keep you safe from frostbite while allowing you to stay focused on your work. In the spring and summer, a light jacket can protect from rain and wind. Throughout all seasons, high visibility jackets work to keep you safe around traffic and heavy machinery.
Second only to back injuries, hand injuries are among the most common workplace injuries, accounting for nearly 150,000 incidents per year. Although a serious hand injury likely won’t be fatal, it can be life-altering and can dramatically change the way you do your work each day. Wearing the proper safety gloves can help prevent cuts, lacerations, burns, frostbite, muscle injuries, and other harms that can be downright debilitating. Wearing the proper hand protection is a simple, affordable measure you can take to keep these things from happening. Your hands are your greatest tools, and you need to keep them safe.
- Gloves – We all know that work safety gloves are vital, but not all pairs are created equal. You need to wear gloves that are designed specifically for your industry and the type of work you do. Gloves can protect against chemicals, burn, high heat, extreme cold, impact, splinters, cuts, lacerations, and many more common workplace injuries. Not only can they protect your hands, but a pair of high-grip gloves can help prevent you from dropping heavy objects and injuring your feet or others around you.
Legs and Feet
Like your hands, your feet are especially vulnerable to workplace injuries and accidents. This is why wearing heavy-duty work boots and comfortable socks is so important. Wearing improper footwear can cause devastating injuries, including slips, falls, frostbite, and impacts. On top of that, the wrong footwear can prevent you from properly using equipment and may alter your ability to control heavy machinery. Your legs and knees must also be protected from these common workplace dangers.
Pants – Whether it’s a pair of high visibility pants to keep you bright and easily identifiable in the spring and summer, or a pair of warm winter pants to stave off frostbite, a good pair of work pants can help keep you safe and comfortable on the job. A pair of high quality work pants will also help protect you from cuts, scrapes and other everyday hazards that can be found on the jobsite. Convenience is a factor, too, as many work pants come equipped with roomy pockets for stashing tools and personal items.
Bibs or Coveralls – Work bibs or coveralls offer full-body protection and temperature regulation to help simplify your work wardrobe while keeping you safe through every season. A pair of heavy-duty work bib overalls can provide a thick layer of insulation during the winter and can prevent pants from drooping while you work. High visibility coveralls are an excellent way to bring neck-to-toe visibility to your work uniform with a single piece of apparel and protect you from cuts, scrapes and other everyday hazards that you might run into on the jobsite.
Boots – Work boots are the first line of defense against drops, which is why the steel-toed boot has become such a crucial component of the modern workplace uniform. But a good pair of safety boots can also prevent slips and falls, frostbite, objects piercing the sole, and even electrical hazards, such as static discharge or electric shock. Features such as oil-resistant, non-skid soles can help keep workers sure-footed to prevent potentially detrimental slips and falls in the most demanding workplaces.
Socks – Though socks are often an afterthought when getting ready for work, they are the unsung heroes of a modern work wardrobe. A good pair of insulating socks can help prevent frostbite and trench foot in extreme cold, wick away moisture in extreme heat, and add a cushion to prevent blisters from developing when you’re on your feet all day.
PROPER PROTECTION IS NON-NEGOTIABLE