While discussing crazy roads around the world with our friend Thomas over at Jackson Safety we got to discussing the changes in worker visibility regulations in the new interim final rule for 23CFR 634 . Well you know how crazy those regulations get, so he sent over a simplified interpretation for the rest of us.

Effective November 24, 2008, a new federal mandate, 23 CFR 634 , goes into effect that states “All workers within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway who are exposed either to traffic (vehicles using the highway for purposes of travel) or construction equipment within the work area shall wear safety hi-visibility safety apparel.” By the effective date, States and other agencies shall be required to comply with the provisions of this ruling and ensure that workers are wearing compliant clothing.

It’s really pretty simple!

When does it take effect?

November 24, 2008

Who does it effect?

Per the FHWA, “Workers on foot whose duties place them within the right-of-way of a federal-aid highway, such as highway construction and maintenance forces, survey crews, responders to incidents within the highway right-of-way, and law enforcement personnel when directing traffic, investigating crashes, and handling closures, obstructed roadways, and disasters within the right-of-way of a federal-aid highway.”

How does the FHWA define Hi-Visibility Safety Apparel?

Safety clothing that is intended to provide conspicuity during both daytime and nighttime usage, and that meets the requirements of ANSI/ISEA 107-2004 Performance CL2 or 3 requirements. ANSI 107 requires that CL2 garments have at least 775 square inches of hi-viz, fluorescent background material and at least 201 square inches of reflective material.

What do you mean by ‘Responders to Incidents’?

The FHWA defines this term very broadly and can be considered tow truck drivers or other roadside vehicle service responders, media representatives when covering news events or similar actions within highway rights-of-way, military personnel when on foot, and commercial drivers on foot within the right-of-way who are with disabled trucks or motor coaches.

What is a ‘Federal-Aid Highway’?

U.S. Federal-Aid highways comprise 975,000 miles of roads and their associated rights-of-way – almost one of every 4 miles of all American roads combined. Since determining what roadway is or is not ‘Federal-Aid’ can be difficult, many companies are planning to assume that all roads are covered under the mandate in order to avoid inadvertent noncompliance.

Are any workers exempt?

Virtually the only category of workers specifically exempted from 23 CFR 634 compliance would be law enforcement officers that are engaged in law enforcement activities, such as traffic stops and pursuit and apprehension of suspects. However, they are required to wear hi-visibility clothing during other times such as directing traffic, investigating crashes and handling lane closures, obstructed roadways, and disasters within the right-of-way of a Federal-aid highway.

What about Public Safety Vests (PSV)?

After 23 CFR 634 was finalized, a new standard for PSVs was published as ANSI/ISEA 207-2006 AND since ANSI 207 was not published until after 23 CFR 634 was finalized, the federal mandate could only reference ANSI 107. ANSI 207 vests requires 201 square inches of reflective material and only 450 square inches of background material. Therefore, ANSI 207 vests do not meet the requirements of ANSI 107 and do not currently meet the requirements of 23 CFR 634. These complications are expected to be addressed by the anticipated 2009 MUTCD changes (unlikely to go into effect until the 2nd or 3rd qtr of 09).

Jackson Safety offers numerous safety vests that are compliant with the 23 CFR 634 ruling. The entire Jackson Safety apparel line that has been labeled as ANSI/ISEA 107-2004 CL2 or CL3 are considered compliant. . Customers that do not adhere to the mandate will face costly repercussions from OSHA!

Still looking for more info on the nitty-gritty details?

Remember Jackson Safety and CoTradeCo are happy to sell you whatever you need to comply with regulations, but we also want to make sure you have access to the most useful information possible.

If you still have questions don’t hesitate to contact Trader Dan and the CoTradeCo team or better yet, post your questions and discussions in our community blog