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.

December 8, 2003

Mr. Luis Araya Rojas
Manager of Operations
Edificar S.A
Apdo: 257-1150
La Uruca, Costa Rica

Re: Safety Apparel for Flaggers under §1926.201(a)

Dear Mr. Rojas:

Thank you for your letter dated October 30, 2003, regarding the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) signaling standard for road-side flaggers, 29 CFR 1926.201(a). Your letter asked whether, under OSHA's standards, phosphorescent helmets are suitable replacements for retro-reflective jackets for night-time work. We have paraphrasedyour request as follows.

Question: Scenario: At night or in poor visibility conditions, our road-side flaggers are currently supplied with reflective jackets that meet the requirements of your standard, §1926.201(a). Does your standard permit using phosphorescent helmets that have reflective tape on both sides instead of using the reflective garments?

No. 29 CFR 1926.201(a) "Signaling" requires:

(a) Flaggers. Signaling by flaggers and the use of flaggers, including warning garments worn by flaggers shall conform to Part VI of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, (1988 Edition, Revision 3 or the "Millennium Edition" (MUTCD)) which are incorporated by reference in 1926.200(g)(2).

Part VI of the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (Millennium Edition) states that:

Section 6E.02 High-Visibility Clothing
For daytime work, the flagger's vest, shirt, or jacket shall be either orange, yellow, yellow-green, or a fluorescent version of these colors. For nighttime work, similar outside garments shall be retroreflective. The retroreflective material shall be either orange, yellow, white, silver, yellow-green, or a fluorescent version of these colors, and shall be visible at a minimum distance of 300 m (1,000 ft). The retroreflective clothing shall be designed to clearly identify the wearer as a person.

As noted in the Federal Register, this provision is designed to ensure that "flaggers must be visible at a minimum distance of 1,000 feet."1 Reflective garments are designed for maximum visibility by those operating around flaggers. In contrast, helmets, even with reflective strips on their sides, have much less surface area available for the reflective material. In addition, unlike the retroreflective clothing that conforms to the standard, the helmet with reflective tape would not "clearly identify the wearer as a person."

If you need additional information, please contact us by fax at: U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, Directorate of Construction, Office of Construction Standards and Guidance, fax # 202-693-1689. You can also contact us by mail at the above office, Room N3468, 200 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20210, although there will be a delay in our receiving correspondence by mail.


Russell B. Swanson, Director
Directorate of Construction



1 Sept. 12, 2002, Federal Register, volume 67, pages 57722-57736: Final Rule "Safety Standards for Signs, Signals, and Barricades" [back to text]