High visibility (or hi-vis) clothing is widely used by road workers, railway workers and the emergency services, and is a vital piece of protective clothing for these industries. It is also worn by many leisure users, such as cyclists and runners.
Hi-vis clothing is a type of personal protective equipment (PPE) and is any clothing that has highly reflective properties or a colour which clearly stands out against any background.
Usually, hi-visibility clothing contains two elements which help workers be seen in potentially dangerous situations; a fluorescent material, which aids daytime visibility and a retro-reflective material, for night time visibility. It is commonly accepted that each item of hi-vis clothing must combine both types of material to give optimal safety results.
EN471 Specification for Hi-Vis Clothing
The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 requires that many factors should be taken into account to ensure that the correct clothing is chosen for a particular task and hi-vis clothing should be manufactured to a recognised standard. These regulations are defined by various testing organisations, such as the BSI and other authority testing bodies.
The British Standard for high visibility clothing is EN471. Only yellow and orange hi-vis clothing is full EN471 spec by legislation. Red, green and all other colours do not meet the EN471 specification, and the reflective tape must be no less than 50mm wide in order to comply.
There are three classes of hi-vis clothing classed by the levels of visibility they provide:
- Class 3 the highest level of conspicuity – Minimum background material 0.80m², minimum retro-reflective material 0.20m².
- Class 2 intermediate protection – Minimum background material 0.50m²,
minimum retro-reflective material 0.13m².
- Class 1 low level protection – Minimum background material 0.14m²,
minimum retro-reflective material 0.10m².
Risk assessment will determine the most suitable class required for your workplace. However, in certain situations, such as those working on the roads, guidance is given through the ‘Safety at Street Works & Road Works’ and the ‘Traffic Signs Manual Chapter 8’ which provide information on what type and class of protective clothing you should be wearing.
The rail industry has a separate hi-vis specification called the GORT and those working on or near the railway wear orange hi-vis clothing. The GORT also incorporates the EN510 pull apart hi-vis vest specification, for use where there is a risk of entanglement due to moving trains, parts and equipment.
Buying hi-visibility clothing
At Workwear Essentials we have a wide range of hi-vis clothing, including EN471, GORT and non-EN471 compliant garments.
We have a large selection of rail specification workwear, including vests with Velcro quick release systems, and breathable waterproof jackets and trousers.
Our hi-vis clothing includes jackets, vests, trousers and t-shirts which all comply to the EN471 specifications. These are ideal for a range of industries, such as construction, security and any roadside work and can all be personalised with your company logo, the wearers job title or any information you request.
To view our entire range of hi-visibility clothing, along with other safety wear, including helmets, boots and fire retardant clothing visit the safety workwear section of our website.