High Visibility Workwear Standards Explained
When conditions adversely affect how well workers can be seen, high visibility workwear is non-negotiable. Particularly during Autumn and Winter months, when daylight working hours are shorter and bad weather can decrease visibility further, it’s vital your team is kitted out.
High visibility workwear, also known as Hi Vis or Hi Viz clothing, improves a worker’s visibility using a mix of fluorescent material and reflective strips. In a commercial or industrial setting, high visibility warning clothing must comply with the EN471:2003 specification. As an employer, it is your duty to provide this equipment free of charge to any at-risk workers.
To help you meet your duty of care, at Enfield Safety we stock a wide range of high vis clothing which is fully compliant with the specifications of EN ISO 20471. The range includes hi vis jackets, coats and anoraks, hi vis fleeces, hi vis vests, hi vis trousers, hi vis hats, hi vis rucksacks and hi vis armbands. These come in a choice of classes suitable for a variety of settings.
The level of protection you require depends on several factors including: natural and artificial lighting conditions, the effects or adverse weather conditions such as rain, fog and snow and any other factors which reduce visibility.
In some environments, lighter levels of protection may suffice. In higher risk settings, a greater level of protection is essential. There are 3 classes of hi vis garment, categorized on the levels on protection they provide.
- For high risk environments – e.g. for highway engineers or construction workers on sites with heavy moving machinery.
- Minimum background material 0.8m2
- Minimum retro-reflective material 0.2m2
- Medium risk settings. May not include whole body coverage e.g. high vis vests without sleeves.
- Minimum background material 0.5m2
- Minimum retro-reflective material 0.13m2
- For low risk environments with minimally reduced visibility and without heavy moving machinery or vehicles on site.
- Minimum background material 0.14m2
- Minimum retro-reflective material 0.10m2
Have you considered hard hat illumination to provide extra visability to vulnerable workers? Hard hat illumination systems provide further protection for vulnerable workers by adding a luminous strip with 50m visibility at the most easily seen part of the body.
Key Safety Points to Remember
1 - Job Suitability
As with all PPE, high vis wear must be suitable for the job the worker is undertaking. Heavy coats may be too warm for intensive tasks, particularly in warmer weather. Loose clothing could become a snag risk around machinery. Where necessary, adapt to suit by considering alternative high vis options.
2 - Comfort
If high vis clothing is uncomfortable or ill-fitting, it could become a hazard by restricting the user. Lack of comfort could also reduce compliance. Make sure you offer a range of sizes to suit all team members.
3 – Compatibility
In situations when more than one type of PPE must be worn, it’s important that they not do not interfere with each other. For example, additional protection may be required for temperature hazards, fire risk or chemical exposure. When possible, look for high vis items which offer additional protection so multiple equipment doesn’t need to be worn.
4 - Cleaning and Maintenance
Dirty or damaged high vis clothing will not offer the same level of protection. A regular inspection and cleaning schedule is essential. Remember not to use fabric softener or wash with abrasive items such as denim jeans as this can degrade high visibility material.
Overtime, regular washing will also reduce effectiveness. As a rule of thumb, good quality high vis will keep its effectiveness for up to 25 standard washes. A well organised storage space will help keep high vis in good condition.
5 – Training
Appropriate training equips employees with the knowledge and skills to use high vis clothing correctly and make sure they know who to report defects to. An understanding of the risks will also improve compliance.
6 - Compliance
Having the best high vis clothing in the world is no good if no one wears it. Site checks will help you monitor non-compliance issues. If a problem is discovered, make sure you get to the bottom of why it’s happening – is it unsuitable for the task, or perhaps too uncomfortable? Listen to your team rather than reprimanding without discussion.
Looking for high quality workwear at exceptional value? Contact our safety champions today to talk through your high vis workwear requirements. Speak to the team on: 0333 003 5710.
Enfield Safety – no one works harder to bring you health, safety and welfare products at the right price, on time, every time.
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