Keep Baggage Handlers Safer, Longer, with Proper Reflective Safety Apparel

While the airline industry is rebounding on the consumer side, many airlines are scrambling to bring back and hire new employees. With a shortage of workers, increase in passengers, and flight-preventing weather, airline workers are working longer hours under stressful conditions. In any industry, human error is often the cause of accidents and injuries. Extending the life of safety apparel worn by baggage handlers keeps your workforce safer longer.


Handlers' Uniforms Wear Out Faster, Creative Safety Risks

Compared to flight attendants, pilots, security members, and traffic workers, baggage handlers need to check their uniforms more frequently for wear and tear. Baggage handlers can quickly experience more wear out of their reflective safety apparel due to a number of factors. The uniforms worn by baggage handlers must endure extreme weather conditions that contribute to the wear and tear of safety features.

Baggage handlers lift and move a significant amount of luggage each day. When they are on the job, specifically on the ramp or ground areas, baggage handlers are required to wear high visibility clothing and reflective striping. However, they experience constant, high levels of impact and abrasions from bags brushing against their chest. These high-impact touch points can cause the reflective material to be stripped and worn off from their clothing.

Why Baggage Handlers' Uniforms Need Your Attention

While airlines have clear safety guidelines for employees to stay vigilant and use the proper PPE, there are reasons you need to consider investing in best practices for safety apparel worn by baggage handlers. Most airline workers are responsible for washing their uniforms and monitoring the status of their gear. This includes baggage handlers wearing hi-vis safety vests and other reflective apparel. Baggage handlers are required to comply with safety laws and regulations, but these can be subjective, opening the door to decisions that potentially lead to decreased visibility and safety risks.

Choose the Right Reflective Material

Airport ground crew, including baggage handlers, are categorized under ANSI Type R for their “roadway” exposure. Since baggage handlers are more focused on their tasks than the traffic around them, these workers are best suited for ANSI Class 2 and 3. When worn over heavier layers or coats in cold weather, these high-visibility safety vests can restrict movement, becoming uncomfortable. By selecting ANSI-compliant safety apparel that offers protection and insulation against cold and harsh weather conditions, you reduce the need for bulky layers that impact baggage handlers’ productivity and movement in the winter. This can also help to extend the life of high-visibility safety vests and garments and reduces the need to replace reflective safety apparel worn in the summer, which allows you to save money.

Select apparel that uses retroreflective materials, made with glass beads, to reflect the light. Micro-prismatic reflective material, a more rigid, plasticized trim, can be effective, but it is more costly and does not offer the flexibility and comfort that a wearer requires. Consider garments that have different patterns of reflective strips of tape on the front (H shape) and back (X-back shape) to increase protection in low light and poor visibility environments. This type of reflective apparel will help pilots and other ground transportation drivers to know if baggage handlers are facing them or potentially unaware of their movements as they approach these workers on the ramp or other ground areas.

Plan for Replacement

Reflective material fails over time, but it’s difficult to identify. When workers wear the same garments and accessories every day, week after week, it’s more challenging to notice when minor damages occur gradually or worsen. What might appear fine to a worker may, in fact, not be reflecting properly. This would cause decreased visibility, particularly in poor weather conditions.

To solve for this, we recommend creating and implementing a succession plan to replace gear before it becomes a safety risk. Structured programs remove the inconsistency related to human factors, such as independent apparel maintenance and inspection. Structured programs are budget-friendly and allow for more accurate forecasting and business planning.


Choose the right reflective apparel to keep baggage handlers safe over time, for a longer period of time. For baggage handlers, independent handling and care, repeated contact with abrasive surfaces, and harsh weather conditions will accelerate failure of their reflective apparel. By choosing the right reflective safety apparel and creating a plan for replacement, you can protect your workforce and establish a predictable and manageable budget cycle. Contact our team today for assistance on product selection and replacement planning
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