FHWA sets Interim Final Rule on Safety Vests

by mobrian on November 22, 2008

Feds Create Common Sense Exception Days Before Rule is in Effect

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued an Interim Final Rule to address safety concerns raised by the firefighting community regarding high-visibility safety apparel (see Worker Visibility Final Rule – 23 CFR Part 634, below).

The Interim Final Rule:

Revises the definition of “worker” to exclude firefighters when they are exposed to flame, fire, high heat or hazardous materials.

Exempts firefighters from the requirement to use high-visibility safety apparel, as defined in this rule, when they are exposed to hazardous conditions where the use of such apparel may increase the risk of injury to firefighter personnel.

Worker Visibility Final Rule – 23 CFR Part 634

A new FHWA regulation (Worker Visibility Final Rule – 23 CFR Part 634) that goes into effect on November 24, 2008 requires firefighters and other first responders responding to or working at an incident on federally funded highways to wear a retro reflective safety vest that meets the Class II or III standards of the American National Standards Institute/International Safety Equipment Association (ANSI/ISEA) 107-2004 publication.

The ANSI/ISEA 207-2006 Public Safety Vest standard has also been interpreted as meeting this requirement.

For more information, visit ResponderSafety.com or  USFA Blog.

Remember that the roadway is a dangerous working area for the fire service.  Crews working on roadways should use all the tools available to them when appropriate.  If an engine and rescue are responding to a vehicle fire, it is common sense that the fire fighters on the handline will not be using reflective vests.  The fire fighter on the pump panel, command, or directing traffic should utilize vests to provide increased visability.  The work area must be shielded by the responding apparatus and control measures should be used to alert traffic.

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