High visibility clothing, also known as ‘hi-vis’ clothing or HV clothing, is a very simple and inexpensive form of personal protective equipment (PPE). Because of this, it can sometimes be easy to overlook just how important this type of clothing really is across a variety of industries, such as automotive, construction, highway services, logistics, transport, warehousing and more. However, quality high-vis clothing can have a significant impact upon the health and safety of your employees… and on site security, as well.
There are two primary reasons why high visibility workwear is important:
Hi-vis clothing can minimise the risk of accidents within many different settings, helping to prevent major injury and trauma. Not only can HV clothing improve the visibility of those working within dark or under-lit environments, it can also ensure that workers on busy sites — particularly on sites where there is vehicular traffic — can easily be seen by drivers and operators from a distance, rather than blending into the background.
High visibility clothing can also be used to create a visible corporate identity, ensuring that key staff can be identified quickly and easily. This can help to make sure that high levels of efficiency, safety, and on-site security are maintained at all times, particularly at times of risk. Hi-vis PPE can be used to establish teams, classify workers, and identify employees, as well as highlighting important staff members to civilians in the area.
High visibility clothing can be made from any coloured material that will stand out against a workplace background. However, fluorescent orange and yellow are understood to have the greatest visibility across most site environments. If clothing includes reflective tape, which reflects light to further enhance the visibility of the wearer, it is important to look for PPE with 3M 9920 tape. This is one of the toughest forms of reflective tape for PPE, and is widely considered to be industry standard.
Ideally, HV clothing should also meet the criteria for ISO 20471 for high visibility clothing (or BS EN ISO 20471 which is the British equivalent), and be Class 3 rated, which is the highest class of visibility and offers better performance than Class 1 and 2 garmentry.
UK legislation dictates that employers have a legal duty to provide high visibility clothing free of charge to anyone who may require this form of PPE to undertake their role safely. There are many different types of high-vis workwear depending upon the level of coverage that is required by the setting, including hi-vis trousers, hi-vis jackets, and full boilersuits.