High Visibility Workwear Options for Women on Construction Sites


High visibility apparel – including pants as well as shirts and vests – saves lives on construction sites where struck-by hazards present an ongoing concern.

Those in construction are part of a wider group of workers including disaster and environmental clean-up workers, first responders, maritime workers, bicycle and pedestrian messengers, security and safety personnel, and roadside workers for whom high-visibility pants are essential.

High-visibility Workwear Features and Standards

Different colors, materials, and standards keep workers safe from common workplace hazards. HiVis notes common fluorescent shades provide high-visibility, including green, neon yellow, and bright orange.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) have established guidelines in high visibility apparel as part of the ANSI 107/ISEA 107 standard.

Yellow-green, orange-red, and red are the three primary colors of high visibility apparel.

The brightest is fluorescent yellow-green, which must have a minimum total luminance (brightness) factor of 70 percent. It is worn to create contrast with orange cones and barriers in the roadway to stand out to motorists. Fluorescent orange-red serve as universal colors representing hazard and caution.

Fluorescent red is the newest addition to the ANSI color lineup in the U.S. while it has been widely used in the European and international markets for years. It provides an option when fluorescent yellow or orange will not suffice. Orange-red or red high visibility apparel is preferred at dusk or in lower-lit conditions as the eyes may be able to detect the color better in lower ambient light levels. Red apparel should have a significant amount of retroreflective material.

Black – which when combined with retroreflective and fluorescent material is only acceptable for off-road use – is being significantly used as high-visibility apparel when designed to comply with ANSI/ISEA 107-2015 standard Type O, Class 1 guidelines.

Options for High-visibility Clothing

Historically, construction workers’ apparel and PPE has been designed with men in mind, including pants (zippers on opposite sides for men’s and women’s pants date back to a time that while men dressed themselves, women were dressed by servants. With most people being right-handed, that dictated zipper placement).

Manufacturers such as HiVis Supply are meeting the need for women in the construction industry to have access to clothing that keeps them comfortable, safe and affords them the opportunity to work effectively. HiVis Supply offers women’s pants sizes from small through 3XL.

Among the options: Portwest’s PW385 Women’s Class E Work Pants for ANSI/ISEA 107|Class E. Kingsmill Poly-Cotton Elastane Flex Shell is used for maximum range of movement. The garment is reinforced in high-wear areas for added durability. The adjustable hem accommodates various leg lengths.

HiVis Tex Pro Segmented Reflective tape ensures visibility. The pants are available in high visibility lime in sizes 26-38. They are crafted with cargo pockets, a hammer loop, kneepad pockets, and a multi-way thigh pocket.

Its fabric is 40+ UPF-rated to block 98 percent of UV rays.

The lime-colored PW3 Series PW386 Class E HiVis Women's Safety Rain Pants are designed to reduce tripping and snagging risks. Its ergonomic hem allows for an optimal fit over boots. The PW386 also has an elasticated waistband. A HiVis Tex Pro Segmented Reflective Tape helps meet ANSI/ISEA 107 Class E compliance. The pants have a stain-resistant finish with 5.5-oz double PU coating to ensure moisture beads away from the surface.

The pants feature a rule pocket, two-side zipper compartments on each leg, a side zipper leg opening, contrasting panels to hide dirt, reinforced panels for high wear areas, and five storage pockets.

Dickies offers the Dickies Women's Hi-Vis Performance Pants, featuring a contoured FLEX high waistband with double bottom closure for optimal comfort. The pants are ANSI/ISEA Type R, Class E compliant. They also include retroreflective tape for greater visibility, meeting Class 3 requirements when worn with a corresponding retroreflective Class 2 top or outerwear. The pants are made with Cordura fabric with DWR trim components. Cordura knee patches highlight ergonomic shaping. The Cordura hem guard is designed for added durability. Side loading zipper knee pad pockets are accessible whether the woman wearing the pants is right- or left-handed. The pants also have deep front pockets and two large cargo pockets to hold gear. Hammer loops and a ruler pocket are included with a large center back belt loop for added support.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for women is on the rise. Check out this IronPros article for an overview of PPE designs and requirements.

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