Safety vests are worn by people who are working in an environment where they are at risk to be injured by passing motorists. These vests are fluorescent in color, drawing attention to the otherwise unnoticeable person. Safety vests fall into one of four categories: class 2, class 3, public safety and economy vests.
Class 2 vests are worn by people who work in areas of high traffic, dangerous weather conditions and complex backgrounds. These people usually work in law enforcement, construction, emergency response, and utility fields. Class 2 vests are fluorescent lime, yellow or orange, and are worn over the top of shirts or uniforms. There are several styles of class 2 safety vests, including adjustable, mesh, illuminated and flame retardant. Most of the time, the vest is imprinted with the department or company name for identification purposes.
Safety vests that are classified as class 3 are worn by people who are working in the dark and in areas of higher traffic or extreme weather conditions. These vests are full, half, or short sleeves, and fit like a shirt. This draws more attention to the wearer, providing an extra level of safety. Like the class 2 vests, they are available in fluorescent orange, yellow, or lime, and can be imprinted with the department or company name. This variety of vest is available in mesh, rubber, non-mesh, jacket, overcoat and sweatshirt styles.
Public safety vests are worn by police, paramedics, Department of Transportation (DOT) officials and firefighters when high visibility is a necessity. During these times, safety officials are assigned a color depending upon their jobs. Police wear blue, paramedics wear green, DOT officials are assigned orange and firefighters wear red. These colors make it easier to distinguish the public safety personnel and their duties. Public safety personnel can often be seen wearing these vests at accident scenes or disasters.
Economy vests are the safety vests that are handed out during special events. These vests are often worn by people who are directing traffic or providing security services. These vests are fluorescent orange, yellow or lime and are worn over the top of the clothing. Most of these vests are left unprinted or they may be printed with generic terms such as "Staff" or "Security," so they may be used interchangeably with other events. These vests may also be worn by motorcyclists who are riding at night, or during bad weather conditions, to increase their visibility.