Occupational (OSHA) and Environmental Hazards/osha regs on safety vests
Does OSHA require construction workers not subjected to any kind of traffic to wear reflective safety vests? We restore/repair concrete. What if, for example ,we were working at a house or a water plant, would we need them?
Subject: OSHA regs on safety vests
Question: Does OSHA require construction workers not subjected to any kind of traffic to wear reflective safety vests? We restore/repair concrete. What if, for example, we were working at a house or a water plant, would we need them?
Answer: OSHA requires the use of reflective safety vests when the individual is exposed to traffic hazards either from public traffic or on-site traffic.
The following will take you to an excellent summary on vests and what type should be used where as a minimum: http://www.cbs.state.or.us/external/osha/pdf/pubs/fact_sheets/fs42.pdf
However as is usual with personal protective equipment, a company has the right to implement safety rules which exceed the minimum requirements of OSHA and many companies consider a safety vest or jacket a part of the required safety gear just as hard hats, hearing protection, etc. In the company where I last worked, all employees other than operators assigned to a fixed location were required to wear a safety vest at all times. Operators were also required to don the vests if they left their stations with the mill in operation. Many companies do this so as to avoid the hassle of reminding employees to use the vests under certain conditions and the enforcement/discipline issues that can arise as well as situations where one employee is assigned to a different task that does have exposure for a short time. With the advent of so many styles and types of vests available most objections are mute. As a normal course of work, all members of the safety/medical staff in our plants (including myself) were required to wear a high visibility vest (orange) with reflective strips and their title (safety manager, etc.) any time they were out of their office. With most of us it became so routine that we seldom took them off if we went out for lunch or coffee. I wore mine most of the time from when I left home in the morning until I returned home in the evening (the exception being if I stopped after work for a cool one) and can find nothing objectionable to such. Now that I have retired I see them on a regular basis on crews in restaurants for coffee, etc. I have the one I wore at work and use it if work on my property which takes me on or near the roads. My wife uses a vest with flashing lights when walking the dog and even the dog has a flashing light fastened to her collar. So while not required under all circumstances, the use of vests for the type of work you mentioned is in my mind very reasonable. If I can be of any further assistance please feel free to ask.
Michael Brown, CSP Retired