As Tyndale extends our managed arc-rated and flame resistant (AR / FR) clothing programs into Canada, we invite you to follow along in our Proud to Protect Canada series. While many of the topics in this series contain Canadian-specific content, there are some topics that are relevant on both sides of the border. We hope you enjoy “meeting” our Canada Team, exploring engaging and relevant content, while learning about our unique solution and the benefits it provides to companies and wearers alike.
Regulations for high-visibility safety apparel (HVSA) vary across Canada’s ten provinces and three territories, with nuances in the various jurisdictional or occupational requirements. What are the differences among this mixture of laws, and how do they relate to the federal HVSA requirement as well as CSA Z96, the safety standard that governs high-visibility safety apparel?
To help us sort through the various jurisdictional HVSA regulations, Tyndale Canada’s Technical Advisor, Sara Olsen reviews requirements across Canada with some specifics on regulations for specific industries, such as mining or construction.
Sara’s analysis begins at the federal level, referencing Section 12.7 of the Canada Labor Code, which specifies that in workplaces where there is a risk of injury due to moving vehicles, the employer must provide every person who is granted access to that workplace with high-visibility safety apparel that meets the requirements established in CSA Group Standard Z96 High Visibility Safety Apparel. As we learned in Episode 6, CSA Z96 specifies performance requirements for background material and retroreflective material (high-visibility tape), sets minimum coverage for each, and defines tape placement on garments.
Compliance with CSA Z96 is a requirement for several Canadian provinces. However, as Sara points out, some provinces and territories have specific requirements for HVSA, whereas others do not. In the absence of specific legislation, we recommend defaulting to the CSA Z96 standard. Below is a summary of the HVSA regulations for each territory and province:
Yukon has some of the most extensive regulations when it comes to high visibility apparel, spelled out in Section 1.48 of Yukon’s Occupational Health and Safety regulations:
- Workers must wear HVSA when working near moving equipment or vehicles, including directing traffic or working on a public roadway.
- Three levels of HVSA are specified, coordinating with three specified levels of risk ranging from Level One, with the highest level of visibility, to Level Three, with the lowest level of visibility.
- Minimum coverage is specified for background materials, which must be bright or fluorescent, and for striping, which must include at least two vertical stripes on the front of the garment and an X on the back.
Northwest Territories and Nunavut work together in their legislation but do not have specific requirements for HVSA. However, they do require:
- Employers must ensure that a worker exposed to a hazard from moving vehicles wears clothing made of or fitted with reflective fluorescent or other highly visible materials unless equally effective means of protection are provided to and used by the workers.
- Their shared Codes of Practice give complete guidance on the use of the CSA Z96.
- The code does not have the same legal force as their acts and regulations, but we would strongly recommend following it as best practice for these areas.
British Columbia had both Work Safe BC and CSA options for compliance prior to September 2021, but they’ve recently simplified their regulations regarding HVSA, requiring:
- CSA Z96-compliant PPE for use around moving vehicles.
- For specific information on classes and levels required in different situations, refer to Work Safe BC OHS Regulations, Section 8.24.
Alberta regulations do not specify requirements to meet any standard with hi-vis PPE, only referencing:
- HVSA and their list of definitions contained within Part 18, Personal Protective Equipment in Alberta’s Occupational Health and Safety Code.
Saskatchewan regulations only require:
- Fluorescent headwear for specific types of work, including mines, mills, and drilling operations, as stated in Chapter O-1.1 REG 1 Section 91(5) of The Saskatchewan Employment Act.
Manitoba regulations specifically state in Part 6 of the Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health Act:
- HVSA must be compliant to CSA Z96 for workers who may be exposed to moving vehicles or may not be adequately visible due to environmental or other conditions of the work site.
- Manitoba’s Operation of Mines Regulation, Section 4.6(1) also has specific requirements for mine workers to wear HVSA that meets the CSA Z96 standard.
Ontario is the province with the most specific HVSA special case requirements:
- Ontario’s workplace health and safety guidance indicates that CSA Z96 should be used for high visibility safety apparel on industrial sites.
- Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act, Regulation 213/91 Section 69.1 specifically applies to traffic control and construction projects but is common throughout other industries in Ontario as well. It requires that garments worn around vehicular traffic must:
- Be fluorescent blaze or international orange in color.
- Have 5cm-wide retroreflective fluorescent yellow vertical stripes on the front and an X on the back of the garment.
- If the garment is a vest, it shall have an adjustable fit. Nylon vests must have a side and front tear-away feature.
- At night, garments must have silver retroreflective striping encircling each arm and leg.
- Additionally, Ontario has Regulation 854 for mines and mining plants which requires:
- HVSA is made from bright or fluorescent materials and has 250mm-wide vertical retroreflective stripes on the front, stripes encircling the waist, arms, and legs, and an X on the back.
- The legislation does not define chromaticity, color coordinates, and retroreflective performance.
- CSA Z96 Class Two and Three garments are offered as guidance for what workers should wear in mining areas.
Quebec added HVSA requirements specific to mine workers to their legislation in 2018:
- Underground workers must wear CSA Z96 Class Three apparel.
- Surface workers are required to wear CSA Z96 Class Two or Three apparel.
- The legislation’s wording contains some slight discrepancies from the CSA Z96 standard. If you are working in Quebec, refer to Section 11.2 of S-2.1, r. 14 Regulation respecting occupational health and safety in mines.
Newfoundland and Labrador only makes a brief reference to HVSA in Part VII, Section 81 of their Occupational Health and Safety Regulation, requiring:
- Distinguishing apparel containing high-visibility material as appropriate.
Nova Scotia regulations include:
- Offshore Area Occupational Health and Safety Regulations Part 8 Section 46(d) requires employees in the vicinity of moving equipment or loads to wear PPE conforming to CSA Z96 and its annex pertaining to selection and use.
- Occupational Safety General Regulations Part 15 Section 179 requires pedestrians in areas of surface mines with operating mobile equipment to wear high visibility apparel conforming to CSA Z96 and its annex pertaining to selection and use.
New Brunswick requirements include:
- Work Safe Traffic Control regulations for traffic construction and building safety require all signalers to wear reflectorized vests or jackets when controlling the flow of traffic.
Prince Edward Island doesn’t have many high visibility requirements. Their Occupational Health and Safety Act General Regulations Part 45 Section 45.1 requires:
- Wearing apparel to be of the type and condition that will not expose the employee to any unnecessary hazards. But they do not specify what that means in terms of visibility.
What’s the bottom line regarding HVSA requirements in Canada?
Since regulations can vary between provinces and territories, one must perform due diligence to know the requirements in a specific jurisdiction. Look at your province’s or territory’s occupational health and safety legislation for complete information. For provinces or territories that lack specific HVSA requirements for a particular work environment, we highly recommend using garments compliant with CSA Z96 to ensure enhanced worker visibility when working in the vicinity of heavy equipment, vehicular traffic, or other moving hazards. If you still have questions, we’re here to help!
Be sure to tune in to upcoming episodes in this series where we’ll examine variations in provincial and federal regulations for AR/FR clothing, protective footwear, and protective gloves. Visit our series hub to read episode summaries and catch up on all topics in the series.
Series: Proud to Protect Canada
Follow along with this series to explore our educational resources for companies and workers based in Canada. You’ll meet the technical and market experts from our Canada team and find everything from the basics on the hazards, to PPE and labeling requirements, a closer look at key safety standards and the hierarchy of standards and regulations in Canada, employer responsibilities under the Canadian Labour Code, and more.