Safety Features To Consider When Choosing the Right Safety Vest

Not all jobs are the same, so not all PPE is the same. With workers in so many different industries and roles needing proper hi-vis and workwear to do their jobs, variety is the name of the game. This can make choosing the right vest or other hi-vis apparel difficult as there are many options to choose from – Pyramex offers over 50 vest options alone.

Features that Matter When Choosing the Right Vest

While a lot of what makes a vest “right” involves personal preference, there are still several factors that should be considered when choosing one. Some may be a requirement of the job site or OSHA/ The Centre for Occupational Health and Safety while others may allow for increased productivity.

Standards

CM1P7235Whether or not a vest meets a required standard is the most important factor to consider when choosing the right vest. We take a deeper dive into ANSI and CSA hi-vis standards in our hi-vis 101 blog post. Under ANSI, workwear is either type R, O, or P and class 1, 2, 3, or E. Under CSA, hi-vis is either level 1 or 2, and class 1, 2, or 3. In order to meet CSA standards, vests must have the “X” pattern on the back. CSA Class 3 has additional striping.

The majority of vests offered by Pyramex meet ANSI Type R, Class 2 standards. Some of our vest series meet CSA Class 2 Level 2. We have additional non-rated vests for environments where hi-visibility isn’t needed.

Color

Because lime and orange are the most common hi-vis colors, most of our vest options are available in both. Vests available in both colors meet the standard with both colors.

Black is another popular vest color with today’s workers. Pyramex has two black vest options the RVZ2411CP which meets Type O, Class 1 ANSI standards, and the RCZ4211 which meets the same ANSI standard but also meets CSA Class 1, Level 2. Black workwear is ideal for off-road workers where visibility by motorists or heavy equipment operators isn’t needed.

Non-rated vests come in both lime and orange as well as other colors. The RV12 Series vests are available in pink, red, green, orange, and blue. While these vests don’t offer enhanced visibility, they can help distinguish workers of different roles or create a uniform look.

Material

The material a vest is made of can also be a factor in whether or not a worker chooses it. Vests are typically made either in all mesh material or a mixture of solid and mesh. The RVZ44B Series is an example of a mixed material vest. The material can play a role in how much air is let in/out which helps regulate workers' temperatures.

Some vests, like the RVZ21SE Series, are made from a self-extinguishing material. This means that it will suppress flames, however, it is not considered flame-resistant.

Closure

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The way a vest closes can affect its comfort and usability. There are two main closure types: zipper and hook and loop. Zipper closures, as the name states, use a zipper to close the garment. Hook and loop closure vests use a two-piece material fastening system to close. One side consists of tiny hooks while the other consists of tiny loops. When pressed together, the two sides create a temporary bond to ensure closure. 

A third less common closure, breakaway, is designed so that the vest will rip off a person’s body instead of pulling them with it. This is important if working with heavy machinery in which the vest could get caught.

Other Features

Aside from the factors already discussed there are several other small features that can play a role in functionality that can influence a vest choice.

  • Pockets – A variety of pocket combinations are available with Pyramex vests. For example, the difference between the RVZ24 and the RVZ24CP Series is that the latter has a clear pocket on the front perfect for ID cards and other identification items.
  • Mic Tabs – This allows workers to easily clip a microphone on the upper part of the vest for enhanced communication.
  • D-Rings slot – D-Ring slots give workers a convenient place to clip tools and other objects.

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At the end of the day, the right vest is the one that provides the right visibility and most comfort for the wearer. Having a variety of options available allows workers to make the best decision for themselves.

Need help understanding other PPE categories? Check out our previous posts about choosing eyewear, gloves, head protection, and hearing protection.

Did you know that much of the hi-vis workwear at Pyramex can be customized with your company logo and other designs? Ask us about it today!

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