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High Visibility Clothing – How PPE Works

The 1992 Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations require a number of different factors to be accounted for in order to ensure that the proper clothing is selected for specific tasks.

Is it well-suited for the risk?

Hi Vis Workwear Clothing selection should take into account artificial and ambient lighting workplace conditions, and the effects of conditions like snow and fog. For certain jobs, all that might be needed is a HV waistcoat, but workers who are especially at risk, like moving vehicles (maintenance workers or marshallers) might need to have full body HV clothes to make them as visible to drivers as possible. High Vis clothing should offer adequate protection during the night as well as during the day, and also during adverse weather. Generally, as a rule, the darker the worksite or condition, the higher the amount of HV clothing that is required.

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In order for Hi Viz clothing to be effective, it should be a colour that allows the weather to be able to stand out against an ambient background in the working environment. Best colours, in practice, for this purpose most likely are to be fluorescent yellow or day-glo. Where it is necessary, the clothing also should incorporate retroreflective material so that the wearer is visible when viewed through headlights during darkness or in poor lighting conditions. That might require reflective strips below or at waist level on jackets or waistcoats or on trouser strips.

Is it well-suited for the job?

Individuals who work in warehouses might find that some kinds of loose-fitting clothes that might snag on moving parts of machinery. Also, during the summer High Vis coats might be too warm, and in those cases, overalls or waistcoats with the right HV qualities might need to be provided.

Keep in mind: PPE always must be well-suited for the work; if how working changes – check to see if PPE is still well-suited.

Is it well-suited for the wearer?

It is important for Hi Vis clothing to fit the person properly and is comfortable. It should cause minimal restrictions on the movements of the wearer.

Is it compatible with other PPE forms?

If two types or more of PPE clothing are worn, they shouldn’t interfere with one another. Therefore, for example, in the situation of aircraft servicing staff, protective chemical clothing designed for chemical spills also should offer the necessary conspicuity level. Similarly, cold or wet weather clothing needs to have HV qualities or are capable of being worn underneath HV garments.

Are any standards that need to be met by the clothing?

HV clothing needs to made according to a recognised standard. On high visibility warning clothing, the new British standard is BS EN 471. Thatis a harmonised European standard that is produced according to the PPE legal requirements. Clothing that conforms to this standard gets marked with this pictogram:

The very first number (X) is an indication of the conspicuity class (X), and that depends on the conspicuous materials minimum area that is incorporated into the clothes, with Class being the lowest and Class being the very best; the second number (Y) is an indication of the reflection performance with Class 1 being less visible than Class 2 when it is seen during darkness in the headlights. Specifications are provided by the standard for harnesses, trousers, tabards, waistcoats, jackets, and coveralls.

From July 1995, all new clothing is required to be marked as ‘CE’ in order to show that it meets the new manufacture of PPE European rules. Remember: the CE mark just means that the standard is met by the clothing. It doesn’t mean that it is used in all of the situations. Also, HV clothing must be well-suited for actual use conditions.

Employers are required to:

Provide any HV clothing free of charge that is needed for the job to any employees who might be exposed that poses any significant risks to the employee’s safety;

HV clothing should be maintained in good working order and clean state. Before given to employees it should first be checked;

Storage facilities should be provided for clothing when it is not being used;

Provide adequate training, instruction, and information to allow employees to correctly use HV clothing.

An explanation of all of the risks should be included, why this clothing is necessary, when and how it should be worn;

Employees should be supervised to ensure they wear the clothing properly and where it is needed to be worn.


HV clothing that is provided should be worn by employees according to your employer’s instructions. Check the clothing that has been issued to you, then check for any damage and report any defects or damage to your employer. You should use the storage facilities that have been provided whenever you are not using the clothing. Remember: ill-fitting or damaged clothes will not properly protect you.

What we advise is the best way that you can protect yourself as well as your staff is to conduct a detailed risk assessment and then determine what the proper Clothing and PPE is required.

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