High-Visibility Clothing (often abbreviated to High-Vis) are pieces of clothing that are used to ensure that the wearer is as visible as possible, not only in dark areas, but areas that are regularly used by large and dangerous machines and vehicles.
Black is a popular clothing colour, both in fashion and in the workplace, however black is not the easiest colour to see either after dark, or when you are moving around quickly in a car or a construction vehicle, for example. High-Vis Clothing is usually a fluorescent colour of either yellow, green or orange which show up well in most environments and are complemented with retroreflective strips.
What is Retroreflective?
With High-Vis Clothing, retroreflective relates to a surface that is able to reflect light back to where the light came from. This means that if a car’s headlights shine on a jacket with retroreflective strips, the strips will reflect the light back, meaning that the driver of the car can see them.
This is similar to the “glowing” that occurs when a light shines into the eyes of cats.
Who is High-Vis Clothing Suitable for?
In 1992, the government put together The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations, that encouraged people to ask themselves specific questions* to help them determine whether or no they were using the right clothing for the job:
- Is it suitable for the risk? A dark workplace is more likely to need High-Vis clothing than a well-lit atmosphere.
- Is it suitable for the job? Loose fitting high-vis coats may not be suitable in an environment where sleeves may catch on machinery for example, whilst a simple vest may not be enough to keep someone warm in the winter. Therefore, the choice should be based on the daily issues relating to the job, which could of course change at various times of the year.
- Is it suitable for the wearer? High-Vis clothing should fit comfortably without restricting movement in any way.
- Is it compatible with other forms of Protective Clothing? Many workplaces offer varying kinds of risks, whereby visibility is not the only issue. Therefore, clothing should complement any other pieces of clothing that suit other needs, including hard hats gloves etc.
The employer must supply high-visibility clothing if there is a significant amount of risk relating to any part of a job.
As High-Vis clothing are designed to offer safety and protection, they must meet standards that have been set out for them.
Set out by Europe, high-visibility clothing fit into categories based on their levels of visibility. Which Class of clothing a job requires will be determined by the level of risk encountered by the wearer:
Class 1. Low Visibility needed.
Class 2. Moderate Visibility needed.
Class 3. High Visibility needed.
Other users of High Vis clothing, outside the workplace include:
- School Children, especially during the dark mornings and nights of winter months
- Motor Cyclists
- Walkers, using rural roads that do not have official pathways.
*Questions taken from the government’s Health and Safety Executive. Website.