4 Best Safety Vest for Construction

One of the more important aspects of good safety at a construction site is visibility, so more and more construction employers are requiring reflective details on protective gear. One important piece of gear often referred to as a reflective vest is the safety vest.

These vests are standard for policemen, traffic cops, firemen, and emergency workers, but more and more we are seeing them worn by construction workers at building sites. When involved in construction, your visibility can mean the difference between your safety and a life-changing accident. 

Good high visibility safety vests featuring pockets and more, help alert coworkers, especially those operating heavy machinery, to your presence in the area. While they are not manufactured to prevent accidents per se, reflective details can save you thanks to these alerts.

Best Safety Vest for Construction

To find the best safety vest for construction workers we went right to the source, the construction site. We tested numerous safety vests, even having heavy machinery operators rate visibility for us from high up or from behind the wheel of incredibly large machinery. This is what we found.

Our favorite picks include one for each ANSI safety class rating and an overall choice of the Class 2 Dib Reflective Safety Vest for the high visibility it provides coupled with the easy-care of this 100% polyester vest.

Safety VestMaterialClosureFeaturesANSI ClassSizes
Dib Reflective100% polyesterHigh-quality resin zipperPencil pockets, cargo pockets, gusseted chest pocket, inside pockets2Small to 3X-Large
JK Safety High Visibility  100% PolyesterPlastic zipper with metal headAvailable in 19 color combinations, 9 pockets with closures1Medium to 5XL
Vero 1992 Reflective EngineerOxford front, 100% polyester Heavy-duty Zipper2 chest pockets , 4 waist pockets, 2 mic tabs, Reflective reinforcement edge binding2Medium to 2XL
OccuNomix Heavy-Duty Reflective Class 3 100% polyester Zipper4 grommets, 8 300denier pockets3Small to 5XL

The Reviews

Best Overall Safety Vest for Construction

1.) Dib Reflective Safety Vest

This machine-washable reflective safety vest from Dib Safety is an impressive safety vest that receives high votes for just about every factor we considered.

It is an easy maintenance vest made from 100% polyester mesh that is silky in texture and features breathable black sides for increased comfort.

The closure is a high-quality resin zipper while seams are all reinforced for daily wear and tear. It is ANSI Class 2 certified for safety.

Made with 3M reflective tape and in a bright fluorescent yellow, you will be visible at all times. This vest also features lots of multi-function pockets for your convenience.

Two lower cargo pockets are expandable with flaps that are adjustable. A gusseted pocket sits on the left chest and has reflective piping while on the right chest there is a 2-tier pencil pocket with 4 divisions.

There are also two inside pockets and tabs for chest mics. Dib offers a sizing guide to help you find the appropriate size.

Pros

      • Quality material and construction
      • Quality zipper
      • 3M reflective tape
      • Class 2
      • Extra reflective trim on pocket. Sides and around arms
      • Lots of pockets
      • Machine washable, easy care

Cons

      • Some durability concerns
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Best Class 1 Safety Vest for Construction

2.) JK Safety High Visibility Safety Vest

This is a black safety vest, but it is made with dual-tone two-inch wide reflective strips on the  shoulders, chest, and back for high reflectivity.

Made in 100% polyester it is lightweight and machine washable as well as durable and breathable for comfort.

The manufacturer furnishes a fit guide to select to find the correct size. It is fully compliant with ANSI Class 1 safety requisites.

This vest comes with an impressive 9 pockets for on-the-job needs that feature both zipper and Velcro closures for facilitated access including a transparent pocket for ID a cell phone pocket, writing utensils, a flashlight, and anything else you might need. Available in 19 color combinations.

Pros

      • 100% machine washable polyester
      • 9 pockets with zipper or Velcro closures
      • 19 color combinations to choose from
      • Class 1 ANSI rated
      • Ample sizing

Cons

      • Sizing concerns
      • Quality control concerns
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Best Class 2 Safety Vest for Construction

3.) Vero 1992 Reflective Engineer Safety Vest

Manufactured in 3000 deniers Oxford in the front with a 100% polyester 120 g. mesh back, this safety vest is designed for heavier wear and tear while outside in the elements. 

It features a heavy-duty zipper closure and 3M #8712 reflective tape that is 5 cm in width for increased visibility.

Two chest pockets, 4 waist pockets, an inside pocket, and 2 mic tabs offer you lots of convenience for bringing along all the extra accessories you need in the field. The vest even features silver reflective tape as a binding.

Pros

      • 3000 denier Oxford front
      • Heavy-duty zipper
      • 100% polyester 120 g. mesh back
      • 3M #8712 reflective tape
      • 4 waist pockets/2 chest pockets
      • Available in orange or yellow

Cons

      • Could offer more sizes
      • More expensive
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Best Class 3 Safety Vest for Construction

4.) OccuNomix Heavy-Duty Reflective Class 3 Safety Vest

OccuNomix offers a Class 3 Solid and mesh two-tone safety vest in heavy-duty polyester with zipper closure. As most Class three safety vests it features short sleeves.

Two-inch reflective tape and armholes edge in reflective material increase visibility in the workplace. The front is solid polyester while the back is mesh for breathability and this vest has tough webbing at the hem and around the neck opening for durability.

It is compliant with ANSI Class 3 safety requirements. Added features include 8 pockets made with 300 dernier Oxford, and 4 grommets for tethering tape, flagging tape, lanyards, tool keepers, plus 2 mic tabs.

Pockets include spaces for maps, writing instruments, tools, etc. Available in bright fluorescent yellow with sizes through 5XL.

Pros

      • Heavy-duty polyester
      • Washable
      • Class 3 ANSI 
      • Solid front 
      • Mesh back
      • 4 grommets
      • 8 pockets
      • 2-inch silver reflective tape

Cons

      • More expensive than others
      • No small or medium sizes
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

What Is the Function of a Safety Vest and How Do They Work?

Let’s face it, construction work is dangerous even for the most safety-oriented employers and professional tradesmen. Many construction sites for bridges and roads will put you smack in the middle of traffic and even high-speed traffic, so visibility is your first line of defense.

What would happen if the driver of a large truck moving materials didn’t happen to notice you from above and you find yourself in the path of several tons of metal heading right for you?

And with all the environmental noise connected with construction, no one will hear you. So, you are unseen and unheard…you get the picture.

This is where a good quality safety vest can really make a difference and may even save your life. Not only do you need a bright color, but you need reflective material or detailing that may catch the eye of a machine operator even in the brightest sunlight.

Rugged, durable, waterproof material, such as polyester or nylon, that catches the eye of those around you is vital. Neon Colors like bright yellow, orange, and green are commonly used for this purpose. It is important that the color contrast with the surrounding environment, helping you to stand out.

But color is not the only factor when attempting to ensure safety, reflective details can make a lot of difference by catching the light, reflecting it, and grabbing the attention of heavy machinery operators of even normal drivers along highway construction. 

Reflective details are particularly important in a low light circumstance like evening or nighttime road repair as well as in inclement weather when visibility is reduced to a minimum. This includes rain, snow, and fog.

Safety vest colors need to be unusually bright and that will not blend in with the surrounding environment. You want to be noticed. Reflective details, and in particular, strips of highly reflective material are crucial as they need to “light up” so to speak, making you visible in dark conditions.

Safety Vest Types

Thanks to the work and commitment of the American National Standards Institute, three classes of safety vests have been identified. These classifications help employers and workers alike to select the best kind of safety vest for their professional needs.

1.) Class 1 The Class 1 safety vest is indicated for workers facing the lowest risks but that nonetheless risk physical injury or fatal accidents.

These are normally employed in situations where there is road traffic but where the speed limit is 25 miles per hour and no higher. They are considered sufficient where there is ample distance between the road or heavy equipment and the worker.

An example is sidewalk repair. For a vest to receive ANSI Class 1 safety certification, it must be in orange or yellow and possess 155 square inches of reflective detail. 

These vests do not require any type of sleeves and reflective strips should be positioned completely around the middle of the vest and on the shoulders for increased visibility.

2.) Class 2 With the class 2 safety vest, the work risks increase. In this class, road traffic speeds will not exceed 50 miles per hour. Class 2 vests will be larger in size because they require more visibility.

These vests need 775 square inches of a safety color (yellow or orange) as a background and 201 square inches of reflective material integrated into the vest. 

This type of vest will commonly be seen worn by construction workers working with or near heavy equipment, airport workers, or surveyors for roads.

3.) Class 3 Class 3 safety vests are for workers facing the worst in hazardous situations where your being seen is fundamental.

You may see road repair workers operating during traffic wearing them as well as police or emergency rescue professionals wearing them as well as truckers.

They are common gear for all types of emergency professionals, particularly in bad weather conditions where visibility is reduced. 

These vests are the largest in size of safety vests because to obtain ANSI safety certification they must have 1240 square inches of orange or yellow safety material with at least 310 square inches of reflective detailing and material. These vests may feature short sleeves.

Why Should You Wear a Safety Vest?

The principal reason for wearing a safety vest, especially in construction is for the visibility they afford. Bright fluorescent colors with lots of reflective detailing offer great visibility even in low light conditions or reduced visibility due to bad weather.  Consider these factors:

1.) Identification Made Easy. A safety vest will permit others to distinguish between emergency personnel or authorized personnel at a worksite and those who are not.

This helps those responsible for safety to remove people at risk from dangerous conditions. In a situation where buildings or structures collapse, safety vests guarantee workers increased visibility for rescue operations.

And for lost hikers, hunters in distress, or lost children in sparsely inhabited locations, safety vests make rescuers easily identifiable.

2.) Safety. High visibility safety vests are often the only way that professionals can be seen when there is little light and weather conditions reduce visibility to almost nothing.

At construction sites, heavy machinery operators may have difficulty identifying coworkers on the ground from their operating position.

To prevent life-changing as well as fatal accidents, workers need to be as visible as possible, so that heavy machinery operators have those few extra seconds to avoid this.

3.) Brand Identification. Because construction enterprises are required by law to furnish safety gear for employees, companies can use reflective detailing for their brands.

This makes it easier for coworkers and security personnel to identify each other, and a little marketing never hurts business.

Factors to Consider

When selecting, here are characteristics valis for either employers or professionals.

      • Color – bright fluorescent colors are the best
      • Reflective Detail
      • Durability – You need to get at least 6 months to a year out of your vest.
      • ANSI safety compliance
      • Fit and Comfort – keep in mind your climate when selecting. For hot climates polyester mesh is ideal.
      • Features like Pockets
      • Machine washable or not

Conclusion

If your work takes you to hazardous environments, you need visibility. While you still need hard hats, safety glasses, safety gloves, and boots, Visibility should be among your top priorities because it is your first line of defense in avoiding life-changing injuries and fatalities on the job.