Be Seen, Be Safe. A Guide to Hi Vis Workwear

Be Seen, Be Safe. A Guide to Hi Vis Workwear

In many work roles, being seen is vital. Those working on roadside and rail maintenance, construction sites and on factory floors all need to be visible to colleagues and often also the public to ensure they are safe from injury and accidents.

High-visibility (hi-vis) workwear is used to visually signal the presence of the wearer. From hi-vis jackets, waistcoats and polo shirts, to hi-vis trousers and coveralls, there is a wide range of hi-vis workwear available for a variety of tasks, working environments and conditions.

An employer’s failure to provide hi-vis clothing or the appropriate type of hi-vis workwear to employees can lead to serious accidents, injuries and fatalities, with severe legal and reputational consequences. Therefore, it is essential that employees are provided with the right clothing for their specific circumstances.

How to choose the right hi vis workwear

A proper risk assessment will identify workplace hazards and allow the selection of the right type of workwear, ensuring compliance with all relevant standards and health and safety guidelines.

Hi-vis workwear, in particular, is governed by one main industry safety standard, EN ISO 20471:2013, and it must be labelled with the standard’s badge. The standard sets out strict requirements regarding the performance of hi-vis workwear.

There are three classifications of EN ISO 20471:2013-certified workwear, based on the level of visibility provided and the risk posed to the wearer by their working environment.

Certified hi-vis workwear must conform to specific colour and luminance requirements, with approved fluorescent colours being yellow, orange and red.

As well as the standard mentioned above, there is also a supplementary standard that applies solely to the use of hi-vis workwear in the rail industry, the RIS 3279-TOM Railway Group Standard. Our Guide to Hi-vis Workwear provides detailed information on all the standards.

Proper use of hi-vis workwear

Providing workers with the correct hi-vis workwear is the first step to protecting them in hazardous working environments, however, it must also be worn correctly to be industry standard compliant. There are minimum requirements regarding the visibility of fluorescent material and reflective strips, which cannot be changed and means that:

  • Adjusting and tailoring hi-vis workwear must be approached with caution
  • Hi-vis trousers should not be tucked into safety boots
  • Non-hi-vis clothing must not cover the fluorescent material and reflective strips
  • Branding or personalising hi-vis workwear should not reduce the area of fluorescent material and reflective strips

It is also important that hi-vis workwear is maintained properly and kept clean. If not, there is a risk that it will become non-compliant with the EN ISO 20471:2013 standard.

Hi-vis workwear should be washed at the correct temperature according to the manufacturer’s instructions and only washed a maximum of 25 times, after which time it should be replaced, as the colour of the garment can fade and the quality of the reflective strips deteriorate, rendering it less visible and increasing the risk of a severe incident.

Contego Safety Solutions stocks a wide range of corporate workwear, protective clothing and PPE, including our WEARMASTER® range. We also provide a bespoke uniform design and manufacturing service to ensure that you get precisely what you are looking for in a company uniform.

The friendly and expert team at Contego Safety Solutions is always on hand to give advice and guidance on the right PPE and protective clothing for your needs. Contact us now on 0800 122 3323 or to discuss your requirements.

Published on 23 May 2023


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