Q&A West Chester Gear
Audrey Ronis-Tobin, MBA, is a marketing veteran with nearly 20 years of experience in a variety of industries, from homebuilding to technology to healthcare. She is responsible for marketing communications and the launch of new products and at West Chester Protective Gear.
- To reduce the incidence of on-the-job accidents and injury, construction, roadway, maintenance, etc., workers must be visible. How does Westchester Gear help workers stay visible, even in challenging environments?
West Chester’s new line of high-visibility apparel is distinguished by its wide range of styles, its quality and its competitive price, which together make it easier for workers to stand out and stay safe.
The new hi-viz offering includes vests, shirts, outerwear and rainwear, to accommodate workers in any environment. A wide variety of apparel configurations are available including:
- Short- or long-sleeve versions
- Various closure options (hook and loop, zipper, breakaway)
- Various color-blocking styles
- Many options for storage, including standard and oversized pockets, mic tabs, etc.
- Ladies sizes
- Enhanced visibility (non-ANSI) options
West Chester’s large and well-established supply chain allows the company to deliver this broad range of high-quality products at some of the lowest price points in the marketplace. Plus, all of our products are backed by extensive customer support to ensure that workers are outfitted in the garments that are optimal for their specific application.
- Related to the above question, are there any specific environments your high-visibility apparel is geared toward?
The West Chester product line is designed for a variety of construction and work environments, including roadways, maintenance areas, off-roadway and indoor/controlled areas—such as factories and warehouses. Outdoor selections options are available to meet the needs for various weather conditions.
- Which specific OSHA or ANSI safety standards is your work gear designed to meet?
All West Chester high-visibility garments are independently tested by 3rd-party testing centers in the U.S. to ensure they meet the ANSI/ISEA 107-2015 standard. This standard sets forth what is an approved fluorescent material and what level of brightness, coverage and reflective tape are required to qualify as a particular type or performance class of high-visibility apparel. West Chester offers all three high-visibility performance classes—ANSI class 3, class 2 and class 1—as well as enhanced visibility options.
The ANSI 107-2015 standard, however, is not law. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices 2009 (MUTCD 2009) makes hi-viz apparel mandatory, and that regulation is both translated and enforced by each state. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed guidance intended to clarify the requirements for when hi-viz apparel is required.
- West Chester offers class 3, class 2, class 1 and enhanced-visibility options. Can you tell us a bit about each of those types of options and what is available?
ANSI 107 establishes four performance classes—Class 1, Class 2, Class 3 and Class E. Performance Class 1 garments offer the minimum amount of high-visibility materials needed to differentiate the wearer from non-complex work environments. On the other side of the spectrum, Class 3 apparel offers the greatest amount of high-visibility materials to allow for the best definition of the human form, especially when there are complex backgrounds or moving objects. Class 2 garments fall between the other two in the amount of background and retroreflective materials. In addition, Class E describes pants or bibs. When worn together with Class 2 or Class 3 vests, shirts, etc., the total ensemble of pants/bibs and tops can be classified as Class 2 or Class 3.
It’s important to remember that in addition to the performance classes, the ANSI standard also establishes three garment types: Type O for work that takes place off-road or in controlled environments; Type R intended for roadways; and Type P intended for public safety workers. Performance class and garment type are co-dependent, which means that to qualify under the ANSI standard, the apparel must have both a class and a type (not just one or the other).
West Chester offers a broad range of vests, shirts, outerwear and rainwear in all high-visibility garment types and performance classes.
- What type of customization is available for customers wishing to have their logos or other unique company differentiation on their apparel orders?
For companies that want to place logos or wording on their work apparel to help drive business or as a team-building initiative, West Chester’s in-house Custom Shop provides customization in up to 7-10 business days. Options include 1-color to 5+ color logos, as well as embroidery. An online customization portal allows customers to upload artwork and save time on the ordering process.
- What types of clothing styles are offered by West Chester?
West Chester offers vests, shirts, outerwear and rainwear. All vests and shirts feature moisture-wicking to keep workers dry and comfortable. They are available in classic, breakaway and surveyor styles with many color block and reflective tape patterns. Standard and oversized pockets allow workers to store smaller cell phones, pens and notebooks, as well as larger tablet-sized electronics. Ladies’ sizes are also offered.
- Lastly, how do you make your design decisions? What is the process for choosing what to make and how is it tested for comfort, style—and effectiveness to its specific task or safety standard?
West Chester is highly customer focused, and our product development process reflects that. We receive feedback from customers in the field, and we are constantly updating products to respond to market needs. Formally, we develop products around end-user demand for features and benefits. Then we tweak our line, based on innovation and end-user feedback.
West Chester’s Innovation department is always on the lookout for new technologies and fabrics that can enhance the functionality, features or price of our products. We have introduced some cutting-edge new technologies recently, and we continue to enhance and improve our hi-viz offering. WMHS
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