A reflective safety vest could save a construction worker’s life when visibility on the roadways is low. Americans dislike traffic that results from roadwork and construction, and yet too often they forget the danger that construction workers subject themselves to in the name of finishing a job. Just over 4,800 workers were killed on the job in 2015, which breaks down to about 13 deaths each day. High visibility workwear is one method of keeping construction workers safe on jobs that are close to oncoming traffic.
Does Safety Workwear Really Make a Difference?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited in 2009 that “[…] road and construction traffic poses an obvious and well-recognized hazard to highway/road construction work zone employees.” It is essential that the risk is taken at face-value, and steps are taken to minimize the risk, even with an item as seemingly slight as a reflective vest. Here’s why high visibility clothing is especially necessary for construction workers.
Why Are Highway Construction Zones Viewed as So Dangerous?
Highways and road construction zones are viewed as dangerous areas for a construction worker to be in because of the speed at which the cars are traveling. In a residential zone drivers are going at a much lower speed, which allows them to course correct or stop as needed within a safe time frame. On a highway, that time is greatly reduced as the vehicle is traveling great distances in a very short amount of time. This means that even if the driver notices that they are about to collide with a construction zone, the amount of time to correct the mistake is fractions of a second. This is why drivers are required by law to slow down when driving through construction zones.
Visibility Is the Key to Safety.
The driver must notice the workers to be aware of the position of the workers and their own vehicle’s path. This very common place occurrence is made easier with reflective safety vests, as the bright neon colors are meant to be loud and eye-catching on even low visibility days. Without the bright orange or neon green, many drivers would have difficulty seeing the workers from a distance. A reflective safety vest is also recommended to motorcyclists for the very same reason: a distracted driver can do a lot of damage with their car if they do not see you.
The safety of our construction workers is important. The average construction worker walks approximately 30,000 steps everyday, as compared to the goal of 10,000 per day for the average person. A weary construction worker is kept safer when they are wearing their required safety clothes. OSHA recommends eye, ear, head, and foot protection for construction workers, of which a reflective safety vest is a part. It might seem odd that such a flimsy piece of gear could offer so much protection, and yet, it does.