The Importance Of Hi-Vis Workwear

Hi-Visibility clothing are one of the most important pieces of PPE (personal protective equipment) you can possibly wear.  With fluorescent material for daytime visibility and retroreflective material for night-time, they truly do save lives.  And it is not just at work that these are a life-saver – for people journeying on motorbikes, bicycles and even on horseback, wearing one can mean the difference between life or death.

There are European standards that apply to British PPE, and Hi-Vis workwear are included in the BS EN 471 standard to ensure they have the correct visibility.  Before you purchase any PPE, be certain that the garments you buy comply with this standard.  By law, Hi-Vis clothing should make the wearer as visible as possible in any light or weather conditions – including rain, fog, snow or dusk til dawn.   Due to the fluorescent properties of the main bulk of the garment, and the reflectiveness of the retroreflective tape, they should be visible from at least half a mile away in normal weather conditions.  The Hi-Vis workwear’s conspicuity and structural integrity should also be maintained even when exposed to long-term, heavy occupational use.

How to check if your purchase complies with BS EN 471

Check out the garment label. By law there must be all of the following information present:

  • hat the product complies to BS EN 471
  • The product design class
  • The reflectivity level of the product
  • Name of manufacturer (or manufacturer’s agent)
  • The type/model code for the product
  • The size of the product (given as measurements not just S, M, L etc.)
  • Washing/dry cleaning instructions and the number of cycles through which the product will retain compliant fluorescent/reflective performance

Additionally, the product must come with an information sheet which details the instructions for its use, washing/cleaning, care and storage.  The UK regulations also require that any product complying with the standard must be CE marked.  If an item does not come with the above information, then it does not comply with BS EN 471, irrespective of what claims have been made.

Caring for your Hi-Vis workwear

It is important to follow the cleaning instructions to ensure that your Hi-Vis items continue to provide the protection they are designed to give.  The label will indicate how many washing/cleaning cycles a product will withstand without impairing its visual performance.  Hi-Vis products are often exposed to the elements and subject to physical stresses, so it should be examined regularly and replaced immediately if any damage is detected.