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Trade Release
Oct. 20, 2009
Contact: Office of Communications
Phone: 202-693-1999

OSHA's new letter of interpretation requires that construction workers wear high-visibility warning garments

WASHINGTON - High-visibility warning garments are required safety attire for highway and road construction workers according to a new letter of interpretation recently released by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

"Highway construction workers should not suffer serious or fatal injuries simply because they could not be seen," said acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Jordan Barab. "Requiring the use of reflective vests is essential to help prevent workers from being injured or killed."

In 2004, OSHA issued a letter of interpretation about the use of high-visibility apparel in highway construction. The letter emphasized that section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act requires workers in highway work zones to wear high-visibility apparel.

However, the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission ruled that OSHA's letter indicated a more limited position: high-visibility garments are only required where the Federal Highway Administration's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) mandates their use.

Therefore, OSHA is issuing a new letter stating that all highway and road construction workers must wear high-visibility apparel regardless of whether the MUTCD requires them. OSHA considers road and construction traffic a well-recognized hazard to highway/road construction workers. Bureau of Labor Statistics reinforced the need for using safety apparel when data from 2003 to 2007 showed there were 425 road construction work zone fatalities.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA's role is to assure safe and healthful working conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; and providing training, outreach and education. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.

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U.S. Labor Department releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request at (202) 693-7828 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.


OSHA News Release - Table of Contents

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