High-visibility clothing, a type of personal protective equipment (PPE), is any clothing worn that has highly reflective properties or a colour that is easily discernible from any background. Yellow waistcoats worn by emergency services are a common example.
Part of the surface of the garment may have retroreflective stripes. This way they become much more visible in the dark for observers near a light source, such as the driver of a car with its headlights on. The pattern of the retroreflecting parts also helps to distinguish between objects and people. Area reflective fabric has proven to be the most effective way of outlining the body, so that drivers can distinguish a human shape at night.
For greater visibility during the daytime, very bright colours are used for the main body of the garment by means of fluorescent material.
A European Standard for high-visibility clothing. It deals with High-Visibility Specifications.
Only YELLOW and Orange hi vis vests are en471 spec by law. Red vests, green vests and all other colours do not meet en471 specification Below are some of the required codes and safety explainations for various items of Hi Visibility and Personal Protective Equipment.
EN471 - Specification for High Visibility Clothing
There are 3 classes of garment type based on the levels of conspicuity they provide. On all garments the retro-reflective tape must not be less than 50mm wide.
THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF CONSPICUITY
Minimum background material 0.80m2
Minimum retro-reflective material 0.20m2
Minimum background material 0.50m2
Minimum retro-reflective material 0.13m2
LOW LEVEL PROTECTION
Minimum background material 0.14m2
Minimum retro-reflective material 0.10m2
Selection of the most suitable class of garment is based on your risk assessment. However, in certain situations guidance is given, such as if you are working on the highways the 'Safety at Street Works and Road works' and the 'Traffic Signs Manual Chapter 8' provide information on what type and class of protective clothing you should be wearing.