• Viewbrite Safety Products
  • Viewbrite Safety Products
  • Viewbrite Safety Products

How Long Does Safety Apparel Last?

One of the most important tools for a construction worker is his high-visibility safety vest. No matter what sort of conditions he may be working in – whether its alongside a busy highway, working after sundown, or working in the rain (for which there is safety rain gear as well), it’s vitally important that is able to be seen by people both on the construction site and those driving by. These safety vests must meet special requirements by the FHWA, that is, they must be ANSI Class 2 or Class 3 safety garments. These vests are required by all of those who are working near a highway or working near construction machinery, not just the workers themselves. This includes surveyors, engineers, foremen, and more.

Damage Over Time

Because of their daily usage and the environment of a construction zone, these safety vests can undergo a lot of damage. This damage doesn’t even need to be from just one incident. Wear and tear accumulated over a period of time can show visible problems with safety vests. They must be visible at 1000 feet, and should safety vests become too damaged, soiled, torn, or defaced, to meet this requirement, they must be replaced.

Color And Reflectivity

So what characterizes a vest that is too old, damaged, or worn? Acceptable vests maintain high color contrast and reflectivity. The colors are bright, and they are easily visible, even at far distances. A little bit of fading and dirtiness still makes the vest okay, but keep in mind that they need to be visible at a thousand feet. Once the reflectivity of these vests is questionable and the colors are faded, that marks the point where new vests need to be purchased. This goes with other safety tools as well, not just vests. Safety rain gear and lighted cones should be immediately replaced if they lose effectiveness.


Replacing these used safety vests is actually very easy. After the first step of recognizing that the vests or tools need to be replaced, a supervisor needs to be notified. The supervisor needs to know a little bit of information before he can go about replacing the gear, such as what sort of work is being done (and so what sort of vest is needed), the local guidelines and regulations for safety gear, and whether the vest was Class 2 or Class 3.

Once the old vest has been replaced, it’s important to cut up the old one so it cannot be reused by someone who doesn’t know it’s out of commission. Once it’s been properly disposed of, the process is complete.

Average Lifetime

There are also other factors that can contribute to increased rate of wear on safety vests, but the average time is around six months. Vests worn at higher elevations or in hotter climates are more prone to damage. In addition, the actual type of work done while wearing these vests can lead to dirtier, more worn vests, and how often vests are cleaned and how they are stored also play a big part.

There’s no point in wearing safety gear if it doesn’t work. The primary purpose of safety vests, safety rain gear, and other reflective items is to be seen, and if they can’t be seen, they are rendered useless. When it comes to replacing it, you’re better off safe than sorry, so don’t hesitate when it comes to replace an old one.

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