Your guide to hi-vis clothing in the workplace
Hi-vis (high visibility) clothing has become a legal requirement in certain jobs and a recommendation in others. Full hi-vis, or even just a vest, can help prevent accidents from happening. Just as warning and safety signs should be visible for all, you would want your employees to be visible so dangerous situations can be avoided. So, let’s talk about hi-vis clothing.
Hi-vis clothing and reflective clothing
Hi-vis workwear is usually a fluorescent yellow, bright orange or green colour to help the person be visible in darkness or to highlight the person against their surrounding environment. Hi-vis clothing includes vests, jackets, trousers and shirts. When choosing your hi-vis clothing you should consider the environment that it is going to be used in. Yellow typically works in most situations as very few places will have decor that colour, while green is good for any industrial work with a grey environment as it will stand out but it can blend into the surroundings on some road working projects. Orange will usually have a good range of uses like yellow, as it is not a typical background colour.
Reflective clothing differs from hi-vis as it can be any colour but it utilises reflective strips to reflect light from external sources. In this case the clothing itself can be any colour from white to black as long as it has a substantial reflective component. Since reflective garments rely on light like car headlights or torches, they are not so suitable for visibility during the day; great to use at night, however.
Most high visibility clothing will be a combination of hi-vis and reflective clothing, meaning they will combine block bright colours (yellow, orange or green) and reflective components to give the wearer the highest level of protection.
Classes and types of hi-vis clothing
Class 1 clothing offers the minimum high visibility protection. This will often be vests and shirts, typically worn around car parks by workers collecting shopping trolleys or in other less risky work environments. Class1 mainly goes with a Type 0 hi vis clothing.
Type 0 hi-vis
This is an off-road type situation where there may be moving equipment or vehicles that make visibility a concern. However, hi-vis clothing may not be required.
Classes 2 and 3 both suit Type R and P hi vis clothing which are described in a bit more detail here.
Class 2 can include shirts with short or long sleeves but these will not be required to have reflective strips on the sleeves.
Class 3 offers the highest level of visibility. It includes shirts and trousers with both hi-vis and reflective components to make sure the wearer is visible in almost any lighting conditions.
Type R Hi-Vis
Type R hi-vis is classified as working on roadways. This means workers who are exposed to road way traffic and moving equipment and vehicles. Protective hi-vis clothing will be a requirement.
Type P Hi-Vis
This type of high visibility clothing is typically worn by people working in the public safety sector like fireman, policeman, EMS and first responders.