Establishing The Lifetime Of A Safety Vest

Among the most vital tools in a construction worker’s arsenal is his high-visibility safety vest. They are his best friend when conditions are against him, whether it’s because he’s along a highway, working at night, or in the rain (in which case rain suits is an excellent tool.) These tools provide workers with the one thing that is invaluable on a construction site: visibility. These high-visibility vests must meet specific criteria put forth by the FHWA. Specifically, they must be ANSI Class 2 or 3 vests. Everyone working near the highway or construction equipment must wear one, not just the workers themselves, but also surveyors, foremen, engineers, and anyone else present on site.

Damage Over Time

As you might imagine, these safety gear undergo a lot of physical stress due to the nature of construction itself. While this damage can happen all at one time, it usually is an accumulation after many months of wearing these vests. Gradual wear and tear can render a vest unable to be used, as they must be visible at 1000 feet by law. If they aren’t, whether it’s from being torn, defaced, soiled, or damaged, it is required that they get replaced.

Color And Reflectivity

There are a few key things one should look for in deciding whether or not a vest needs to be replaced. Of course vests are bound to get dirty and a little worn (it’s construction after all), but they still need to have high levels of contrast, bright colors, and high reflectivity. They also need to be visible from 1000 feet away. When vests aren’t visible from this distance, the reflectivity is low, and the colors are faded and not distinctive, they’ve reached the point where replacement is necessary. This rule is important for other gear as well, such as reflective cones and safety rain gear.


If you need to replace an old safety vest, the process isn’t difficult. The first step is notifying a supervisor that something needs to be replaced. A little bit of information is required to replace a vest, including what job the vest was for (since they can very by job), local regulations and laws regarding safety vests, and what class the vest is, i.e. Class 2 or Class 3. With this information, the correct vest can be replaced.

There are just a few more things to do after the vest itself has been replaced. It’s important that the old safety vests get cut up and then thrown out so no one can accidentally pick them up, thinking they are still okay to use.

Average Lifetime

There are plenty of things that weigh in to how long a safety vest lasts before it needs to be replaced. The average time hovers around six months, so keep that in mind. However, keep in mind that vests worn at higher altitudes or in hotter areas often get worn faster. Also, the type of job being done can take a heavier toll on a safety vest than others, and how the vests are stored and how often they’re cleaned can cause issues as well.

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