When it comes to buying safety vests safety managers and procurement departments have an overwhelming number of choices. This is great, since a wide selection improves the chances that your workers will have the right PPE for the job.
When assessing your safety vest needs, you need to consider the following,
Safety vests need to match the environmental conditions in which they are being used. Heat, cold, wind, rain, and snow can all be factors, depending on when the work is being done and where the jobsite is whether this be external or internal.
Safety vests do, of course, play a role in making the employee safer. More often than not, the main safety function will be visibility. The vest is intended to make others aware that the worker is there to reduce the chances of them being struck, being run over, backed into, or otherwise hurt due to them not being visible.
That said, vests may be called on to play other important roles such as protecting the wearer from fire, tearing away if caught in machinery, or providing cut protection etc.
Last but not least, the safety vest has to fit the worker and be as comfortable and convenient as possible. This is one of the best ways to encourage use. But don’t forget that it must not interfere with any other form of PPE that the worker may have to wear or use.
If a safety vest is needed for compliance, you’ll be looking for the EN number and class that matches the work.
Variations include the reflective index of the strips, the placement, width, and whether they wrap around to the back or not, and garment background colour.
There are two considerations when it comes to durability. One is the wear and tear the fabric can take as most safety vests are made of synthetic fibres like nylon or polyester, which vary in their resistance to wear and tear but they are generally durable.
The second consideration is the durability required by the job itself. Safety vests can be a nylon and kevlar blend to increase cut resistance, as is sometimes required in manufacturing or processing environments. They can have an additional non-flammable coating to increase flame resistance, layered to provide insulation or mesh to help workers keep cool in hot environments.
Design can address safety factors or people factors. People working with industrial machinery need a vest that is designed to tear away rather than pull the wearer in. Workers who need cut protection will need a more complete vest with maximum body coverage, especially compared to a road worker who primarily needs to be seen but also keep cool in the summer.
Once safety is addressed, there are other design options, such as pocket placement and number, radio loops, ID holders, and so on. At the risk of stating the obvious, the best way to find out what workers want in a vest design options is to ask them.