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Flagger

Flagger Apparel Reference Guide

9/25/20
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Dress for Success

The phrase might be a cliché, but it’s good advice for workers in any field. As professionals, we dress in the clothing that allows us to perform our jobs safely and comfortably, taking our responsibilities and environment into account. Dress shoes or high heels that might be appropriate in a board room wouldn’t be appropriate on the football field, and you wouldn’t wear a suit and tie to fight a fire.

What you wear as a flagger is just as important as the role you perform.

Proper clothing makes you more visible to motorists and others working on your job site, and provides additional protection against the elements and injury-causing incidents. In Washington state, flaggers must comply with minimum standards of dress set by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries while on the job. (Individual employers, cities, or counties may require higher standards.)

The ANSI class system

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) created the ANSI class system to provide guidelines for high visibility safety apparel worn on the job. This system regulates clothing worn by workers like roadway flaggers, who are routinely exposed to potential hazards due to low visibility. As a flagger in Washington state, your clothing must comply with ANSI Class 2 specifications. However, garments that meet the higher Class 3 specifications are recommended.

The time of day and weather conditions will also determine how you dress.

If you aren’t sure if your garment complies with the minimum ANSI Class 2 or 3 specifications, check the tagit will state both ANSI class and level ratings.

High visibility safety apparel (HVSA) refers to garments worn by workers that provide enhanced visibility in all light conditions. This is achieved through the use of fluorescent and retroreflective materials. Fluorescent colors absorb invisible ultraviolet light waves and reflect them, making them appear to “glow,” but they are not visible in the dark. “Retroreflective” refers to a type of material designed to reflect light directly back toward its source, making it more readily visible, even in dark conditions.

During daylight hours, your outermost layer must include:

  1. A high-visibility safety garment designed according to ANSI Class 2 specifications, including:
    • At least 775 square inches of background material that are fluorescent yellow-green, fluorescent orange-red, or fluorescent red in color
    • 201 square inches of retroreflective material that encircles the torso and is visible from every angle
  2. A high-visibility hard hat that is white, yellow, yellow-green, orange, or red in color. Clothing that restricts your peripheral vision, such as a hood on a sweatshirt, should never be worn under a hard hat.

During hours of darkness (30 minutes before sunset to 30 minutes after sunrise), you aren’t as visible to motorists and your fellow workers as you are during daylight hours.

Additional retroreflective elements on your garments (including retroreflective banding on the legs of your coveralls or pants) help others recognize you as a flagger.

During hours of darkness, your outermost layer must include:

  1. A high-visibility safety garment designed according to ANSI Class 2 specifications, including:
    • at least 775 square inches of background material that are fluorescent yellow-green, fluorescent orange-red, or fluorescent red in color
    • 201 square inches of retroreflective material that encircles the torso and is visible from every angle
  2. White coveralls, or coveralls or trousers that have retroreflective banding on the legs in accordance with ANSI Class E specifications
  3. A high-visibility hard hat marked with at least 12 square inches of retroreflective material, visible from every angle

When weather conditions (such as snow or fog) limit visibility, you must wear pants, coveralls, or rain gear in a highly-visible color with retroreflective banding on the legs, designed according to ANSI Class 2 (or higher) specifications.

How do I know if my clothing meets these requirements?

There are a few ways to know if your safety garments comply with ANSI Class 2 guidelines.

Check the tag: Your clothing must state that it is ANSI Class 2 compliant.

Check the expiration date: Some of your gear, like hard hats, may have expiration dates. Check before use to make sure your gear is as effective as possible.

Check for fading or discoloration: Know how many times your clothing has been washed and how many hours of sunlight it has had. The garment’s limits will be displayed on the tag.

Note: This information pertains to flaggers working in Washington state. Some states may require flaggers wear clothing that complies with ANSI Class 3 standards in certain conditions. In general:

  • Class 1 garments are intended for workers in areas that are removed from traffic, or where traffic does not exceed 25 miles per hour.
  • Class 2 garments are intended for workers on roadways where vehicles are traveling under 50 miles per hour.
  • Class 3 garments are intended for workers in the most hazardous traffic situations, including roads on which traffic travels at more than 50 miles per hour.

Always refer to your own state, county, city, or employer’s guidelines when outfitting yourself for work.

Looking to become a certified flagger?

Evergreen Safety Council offers flagger certification and training in the state of Washington. Visit our program page to learn more!

View Flagger Certification Program

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