Why Do Construction Workers Wear Bright Yellow?

Being a construction worker is not really a walk in the park. With the risk of workplace accidents and the fair share of daily trouble and hardships, construction workers do have to put up with a lot on a day to day basis.

Since they do have to work early in the morning or late at night, they do have to protect themselves from workplace hazards that might arise from low visibility.

Vehicles and the heavy equipment do pose a threat to them and it is hence essential to ensure that you can see the construction workers clearly even in dim light or darkness or in the rain or fog. And this is why you see construction workers don bright hues like yellow. 

So yeah, construction workers do not wear bright colors coz of their love for the theatrics but it’s just something to ensure their safety at the workplace.

Why Do Construction Workers Wear Bright Yellow

The neon hues might be too bright for us but they do save lives. So why exactly do they wear yellow then? Is there something more to it than visibility? Read on to find out. 

Why do construction workers wear bright yellow? 

Visual conspicuity is the primary reason for construction workers opting for bright yellow vests. Yellow is a color that can quite easily be registered by the human brain and hence it would help people to spot construction workers easily and thereby reduce accidents due to low visibility.

The most notable feature of bright yellow color is its high visibility and this is exactly why the hue is used in High Visibility Safety Vests. 

Bright yellow vests help drivers to see construction workers from a distance so as to take caution and avoid any accidents from occurring. This is extremely helpful when construction works are carried out on busy roads. 

Bright yellow vests is also made mandatory for construction workers as it is an OSHA requirement. Since it is a legal requirement, the employer will have to ensure that the construction workers wear bright yellow. 

What are the other colors that construction workers wear? 

Bright orange, bright yellow and neon green are the most popular colors worn by construction workers. The ability of these colors to grab attention and stand out from the landscape even during rains or fog is what makes these colors so sought-after. 

Is there any difference in wearing yellow or orange at a construction site? 

Well wearing both orange and yellow at a construction site might seem like the same, but the reason for which each color is worn is different. Bright yellow is used to ensure high visibility.

Even if it is kind of dark or foggy, or if the workers have to be seen from a distance, bright yellow vests are used. Bright orange is used to make sure that the construction workers stand out in the landscape.

The high contrast provided by the color makes sure that even to the passing glance, the construction workers are vividly noticeable. 

Which color is best for workplace safety wear- Yellow or Orange? 

The answer to this question is not a direct and easy one. Which one among the two is better can only be determined by the workplace requirements.

If the construction workers require more contrast to stand out from the surroundings orange hi-vis vests would be a great choice. While working on skyscrapers or tall bridges, the orange vest will definitely make you more noticeable.

But if the vest gets dirty, the dirt does indeed reduce the vibrance of vest, therefore orange vests ought to be kept clean all the time if they are to serve the right purpose. 

Yellow vests enhances visibility and is apt for all sorts of outdoor construction works. The perk of using yellow vests is that if it gets dirty because of greasy dirt, the dirt improves the visibility of the vest by turning into an oily layer. But the same can’t be said when the dirt of quite dark and grimy. 

What are the salient features of high visibility PPE vests? 

While looking for high visibility PPE vests make sure that they do have these characteristics: 

1.) Excellent performance 

Hi-vis vests are supposed to enhance visibility and hence the color and the chosen material of the vest should be so that it will be easy to notice in a fleeting glance. 

2.) Durability 

It is important to make sure that Hi-vis vests are clean as dirt can impede with its performance. The vest must be durable enough to withstand regular and repeated washing. Certain hi-vis vests do have a waterproof coating which does indeed help in extending their life. 

3.) High cost performance

These hi-vis vests are mass produced and are therefore quite cheap. But they have to come packing a punch even at low rates and meet all the necessary requirements and provide excellent customer satisfaction. 

4.) Comfort 

The vests are meant to be worn all the time and hence should be breathable and ought to have a comfy fit. It should provide protection without compromising your comfort.  

5.) Perfect fit 

It is important to find hi-vis vests that fit you properly. If the vest is too tight, staying in them all day would be quite a cumbersome task and you will be haunted by a persisting need to remove the vest.

If it’s too loose fitting, the high visibility vest would hinder your work and might even get you into some accident. 

If your hi-vis vests do have these features do get them straight away. 

Who all should use high visibility PPE vests? 

People engaged in the following activities ought to ensure their own safety as well as of others by making use of hi-vis vests: 

• Traffic control during highway maintenance activities

• Excavation nears busy roads or parking lots 

• Maintenance works on rail roads 

• Installation or maintenance of supply lines( gas, water etc). 

• Construction work in areas with heavy cranes and trucks 

Are hi-vis vests really an OSHA requirement? 

We have been going on and on about why the bright yellow vests are worn by construction workers and why such high visibility PPE vests are quite vital in workplaces, but are these vests really a legal requirement?

Are there certain legal guidelines that we have to follow while purchasing and using such hi-vis vests in the workplace? Relax, we have got all the answers to your questions. 

OSHA Standard 1926.651(d) mandate requires all the employees exposed to vehicular traffic to be provided with warning vests made up of reflectorized or high visibility materials. 

OSHA requires employers to refer to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) for details on safety vests. OSHA Standard 1926.201(a) states that the flaggers are to conform to Part 6 of the MUTCD with regards to their safety vests. 

The ANSI/ISEA 107 Standard states the various features of high visibility PPE vests and categorizes them into three distinct classes, namely class 1, class 2 and class 3 based on the ascending order of visibility. 

Even though hi-vis vests are mandatory and that the employer has to ensure that they are to be worn all the time, it is not the employer’s duty to get these high visibility PPE vests according to the OSHA mandate. 

Hope you got all the answers to your questions about bright yellow vests and high visibility PPE vests in general.

Tune in to our articles for answers to all confusing questions that cross your mind and keep asking us interesting questions to keep us onwards in these quest for explanations. So here’s to bright yellow vests and safer workspaces!!! 

Stephen Luettgen
I have 12+ years of experience in construction, inspections, handy work, and currently working as a Construction Site Manager. In today’s day we spent a significant part of our time at workplace and a right work gear can have significant impact not only on your safety but also work quality.

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