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Application Spotlight: Fluorescent Safety Products

Fluorescent colors can sometimes be seen as over the top, but on a gloomy dark road in November, they can be lifesavers. The traffic cones on the ground, the fluorescent tape marking the back of a truck, the fluorescent vest lined with reflective strips, and finally the classic fluorescent orange construction sign all help to keep those workers and drivers safe.

Regulatory Requirements

Textiles and all articles designed as safety apparel are stringently tested to make sure they meet specific standards. In the U.S., these are set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Over time ANSI standard 107 has been updated to reflect the latest safety garment guidance for employers. In November of 2008 the US Federal government codified the recommendations into law – requiring all highway construction, maintenance and utility workers to use Class 2 (that include multiple reflective strips and cover most of the torso) or Class 3 (that cover arms and/or legs as well) safety garments, depending upon the working conditions. Approved colors are fluorescent yellow-green, orange and red.

For safety in industrial settings, OSHA (in the U.S.) maintains color coding requirements for marking dangers, including the use of fluorescent orange or orange-red for biohazards.

Role of Fluorescent Products

Fluorescent colors have been a mainstay of safety garments and devices for decades. Brightly-colored aerosol paints, for example, have been used to identify hazards and offer strong visual contrast around constructions sites. Fluorescent paint marks machinery in plants to warn of hazards like head impact areas, flooring transitions, and equipment that moves. No doubt you’ve seen how utilities use fluorescent colors to mark underground items – electrical, water, sewage, and gas – clearly designating where to avoid digging.

One of the most ubiquitous uses of fluorescent color is the common traffic cone, present in millions of locations around the world at any given time.

Real-world Challenges

The traffic cone is a good example of an important safety device that must endure environmental exposure in order to properly perform its function. Many are used to mark outdoor construction site dangers, out in the sun day after day, often for months at a time. Premature fading would reduce its effectiveness and likely its lifespan, increasing project costs. Utilizing new technologies and chemical understanding has helped us create a cutting-edge fluorescent concentrate which helps increase the lifespan of traffic cones.

Safety garments are similarly subjected to harsh conditions during their use. To ensure that perform as required, they are tested to withstand not just traditional washings, but rub testing and additional chemical treatments. The fluorescent pigment used in the textiles must hold up to these tests and could make or break ANSI approval. Ensuring that our products can hold up to the harsh conditions workers face every day is a small effort we can make to keep them safe.

Deciding on the right fluorescent can help improve product quality and durability. Whether it is BMS and BNF 5800 series for textiles, our new BVC series for traffic cones, or our BSR series for fluorescent tapes, we at Brilliant are here to help in choosing the right product to exceed standards and boost visibility.

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