OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at https://www.osha.gov.

July 23, 1984

Dennis H. Bradshaw,
Executive Director
Manpower Services
The Associated General
Contractors of America
1957 E Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006

Dear Mr. Bradshaw:

This is in response to your letter of May 25, regarding our recent clarification of 29 CFR 1926.28(a) as to whether an orange vest constitutes personal protective equipment.

We have reconsidered our position of whether orange vests are personal protective equipment within the meaning of 29 CFR 1926.28(a). Our further research has revealed several authoritative sources which we feel are noteworthy. The Accident Prevention Manual for Industrial Operations, published by the National Safety Council, under the classification of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); Subheading, Special Clothing, lists "High visibility and night hazard clothing for construction, utility, maintenance workers ...." Other listings under this subheading include disposable clothing, leaded clothing. The National Safety Council classes high visibility clothing along with other types of protective clothing as Personal Protective Equipment.

The Safety Standards for Construction Work of the State of Washington also address the issue. Under Part C, Personnel Protective and Life Saving Equipment, (WAC 296-155-200), General Requirements, item 5 reads: "Employees, whose duties are regularly performed in areas and under circumstances when they are exposed to the danger of moving vehicles, shall wear work vests of highly visible materials, or equivalent distinguishing apparel." Thus the State of Washington Standards also group high visibility vests along with other personal protective devices under the heading of Personal Protective Equipment

The ANSI Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (D6.1-1971) requires that in positioning flagmen, consideration must be given to maintaining color contrast between the flagman's protective garments and his background. Thus, the ANSI Manual also appears to support the position that protective garments are personal protective equipment.

Our determination, in view of the information available to us, is that high visibility vests would fall under the broad definition of Personal Protective Equipment.

I hope this information is of help to you. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can be of further assistance in this or any other matter related to occupational safety and health.


John B. Miles, Jr., Director
Directorate of Field Operations