This 3M photo shows the back of a Scotchlite segmented trim T shirt.

Big Expansion Coming for High-Vis Apparel

When it comes out later this year, the 2009 version of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices will expand the requirement for high-vis safety apparel to workers on all roads, not just federal-aid highways.

Workers who may be exposed to struck-by incidents on all U.S. roads soon may be required to wear high-visibility safety apparel by the 2009 version of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, a Federal Highway Administration document expected to be published as a final rule before the end of this year. The current edition of the MUTCD limits this requirement to workers on federal-aid highways, which comprise only 30 percent of the nation's roads. As many as 11 million to 13 million workers in the United States are exposed to struck-by hazards, Dr. Tim J. Gardner, Ph.D., regulatory manager for 3M Visibility and Insulation Solutions, said last week.

The high-vis requirement to wear Class 2 or 3 garments, as defined by the ANSI/ISEA 107-2004 standard, American National Standard for High-Visibility Safety Apparel and Headwear, may apply to several worker categories not currently covered, including delivery workers, hotel curb workers, and taxi drivers, he and other 3M visibility experts said during a Sept. 15 meeting and high-vis demonstration in St. Paul, Minn., with magazine editors.

"It's a big step. And in some ways, it's kind of a regulatory reach. There's some controversy about that," Gardner said. "But there was so much agreement in the [highway safety] community about it."

FHWA completed a seven-month comment period in July 2008 and still says it expects to issue the new MUTCD this year; the expanded high-vis requirement is listed on page 277 of this document. Firefighters and other emergency responders engaged in emergency operations on federal-aid highways were exempted from the visibility rule by FHWA in November 2008 because the agency agreed wearing 107-compliant apparel could expose them to greater danger.

A new Scotchlite custom, cuttable film named 5807 that meets the 107 standard will allow municipalities to create personalized reflective apparel quickly and inexpensively, said Brian McLeod, general manager of Stahls' ID Direct, a unit of GroupeSTAHL that makes heat transfer presses and is a 3M Authorized Supplier of 5807 in the United States.

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