In this article we detail the differences between ANSI Class 1 vs. Class 2 safety vests, and the conditions when each must be worn.
Want to learn more about choosing the correct safety vest? We recommend reading our High-Visibility Safety Vest Buying Guide.
Reasons for Class 1 vs. Class 2 Safety Vests
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), every worker working in hazardous environments should wear a safety vest to curb accidents and for easy identification.
Safety vests are used mainly in areas that involve the use of machinery such as moving gears, cranes, construction sites, movement of vehicles, and emergency teams. This prevents crews from being injured because they can be identified from a distance by colleagues who may be operating machines such as forklifts, trucks, and tractors.
Safety vests are available in a variety of colors including red, orange, or blue, and comprise of reflective stripes, printed letters, and symbols.
Safety vests are categorized into three classes, namely Class 1, Class 2, and Class 3. Each of these classes has its specifications and its area of application. The type of vest to be worn depends on the user, the nature of the working environment, or the kind of industry he/she is working in.
ANSI Class 1 vs Class 2 Safety Vests
Now, let’s look at the differences between ANSI Class 1 vs. Class 2 safety vests.
ANSI Class 1 Safety Vest
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Class 1 safety vest is designed to be worn in areas where the level of risk is at its lowest. This includes roads where vehicles are moving at speeds below 30 mph, and the work is taking place at a secure distance from the roadway.
While wearing a Class 1 vest, workers will be identifiable from a distance. Drivers will be able to slow down as they approach the area preventing accidents, which may lead to loss of life or cause workers to sustain injuries.
A vest can only qualify as an ANSI Class 1 safety vest if it has the following:
- Colors yellow or orange
- It has a reflective tape of at least 155 square inches
- The vest should have reflective strips on the middle as well as the shoulder
All ANSI Class 1 safety vests must cover the torso. Sleeves are not a requirement.
ANSI Class 2 Safety Vest
Unlike Class 1 safety vests, ANSI Class 2 safety vests are designed for work sites where the level of risk is higher. This includes roads with moving traffic of 60 mph and above. The size of Class 2 vests is a bit larger compared to Class 1 vests since they have to be more visible and reflective.
According to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), a vest can only qualify as a Class 2 safety vest if it has the following:
- The background orange or yellow safety material should be at least 775 inches
- Reflective strips should be at least 201 square inches
Class 2 safety vests are worn mainly by survey crews, airport luggage handlers, school crossing guards, and other related jobs exposed to moving vehicle traffic.
Choosing between Class 1 vs. Class 2 safety vests is best done based on the level of risk and the type of industry you are working in. If you are working in an area that poses considerable risk, choose a Class 2 safety vest and vice-versa.
ANSI Class 1 and 2 safety vests are designed for different working environments and safety risk levels. When shopping for a vest of this nature, make sure they meet the specific ANSI visibility standards for the work environment.
Nick Klamecki is a certified Fire and Workplace Safety expert with 15 years experience in product research and testing. He has a degree in Economics from U.C. Davis, is an active outdoorsman and spent years ensuring the safety of special needs children. Nick researches and tests workplace, industrial and safety products and provides advice on their safe use.