Hi-viz, or high visibility clothing, is your go-to when you need to be seen!
Image in the workplace transcends fashionable corporate attire. It’s equally important to ensure that employees at every level are professionally decked out per the task at hand. Also, they look smart and they represent their companies professionally and with pride.
At About Workwear, we provide workwear solutions and supply many companies with their branded workwear, safety wear, corporate wear, safety footwear, uniforms, overalls, and so much more! Protective and safety work gear are key components in many industry sectors so let’s take a look at hi-viz (High-Visibility Safety Apparel).
What is high visibility clothing aka hi-viz?
High-visibility clothing (often abbreviated to hi-vis or Hi-Viz), refers to any clothing that is made of fluorescent, luminescent or retroreflective materials, easily discernible against any backdrop or surrounding, and easy to see in any light. To ensure the wearer’s visibility, coverage all around the body (i.e. 360° full body coverage) is required, with orange and yellow normally being the favoured colours.
The standard for high visibility requires that clothing must provide visibility of the user in a hazardous situation under any light conditions by day, and under illumination by vehicle headlights in the dark (24-hour visibility). This is especially the case for incidents on or near roads or motorways according to the BSI Group.
Protective clothing is used in a wide variety of hazardous scenarios. There is a range of standards designed to assess products that offer suit protection against temperature extremes or chemical exposure to splash-proof aprons. All protective clothing will only remain effective if properly maintained and cleaned following the manufacturer’s instructions. Contamination from dust and toxins, for example, can increase the risk of the protective suit becoming susceptible to ignition from naked flames.
As with all protective equipment, protective clothing will only perform within specified parameters and all users must be familiar with the limitations of the equipment. Also, be aware that different protection standards may apply depending on what the safety apparel is being used for.
Why do I need hi-viz?
Hi-viz safety apparel is needed if you work when there is low light and poor visibility, especially if you are working around moving vehicles (cars, trucks, or other machinery travelling under their own power, such as forklifts, backhoes, etc.).
The human eye responds best to large, contrasting, bright, or moving objects and worker visibility is enhanced by high colour contrasts between clothing and the work environment against which it is seen. High-visibility items allow you to be seen by the drivers of vehicles from farther away to give them enough time to respond accordingly – this increases your safety at work.
Who wears high-visibility clothing?
Just like helmets, goggles, or other garments or equipment used to offer protection, Hi-Viz safety clothing is a form of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). While PPE has a very important role to play in employee safety, it is only one component in an overall safety control plan and should be used in conjunction with other controls or physical safeguards.
Increasingly used by cyclists, and motorcyclists, hi-viz is most often worn in occupations where hazardous situations are created by moving vehicles or in low light conditions. Common examples include:
- Road and railway workers
- Construction workers
- General industry workers
- Airport workers
- Emergency service providers
Depending on the industry, application, and the hazard present, other factors that need to be taken into account when choosing HVSA (High Visibility Safety Apparel) include flame resistance, thermal performance, water resistance, durability, comfort, tear-away features, material breathability, and flexibility.
Why the right fit in hi-viz is important
Not only is the right fit important, but so is the care and maintenance of your high visibility garments.
- All garments should be comfortable – any seams and materials should not cause discomfort or irritation to the wearer. It should also be of appropriate weight for the duty at hand, and provide adequate stretch and flexibility for the job.
- No other clothing or equipment should cover the high-visibility materials.
- Contaminated or dirty retroreflective materials may lower visibility, so it’s important for apparel to be kept cleaned and well-maintained.
Rain doesn’t stop play
In many industries – the construction game, for example – workers remain on the job come rain or shine making high visibility, water-resistant safety gear another consideration for management. Before making a decision concerning waterproof workwear, however, there are five key considerations to take into account:
- Go for water-resistant material not simply waterproof
- Choose breathable fabrics for cooling and comfort
- Wet conditions = low visibility conditions making brilliant fluorescent colours and reflective tape essential
- Efficient insulation synthetic where possible
- Durable construction, waterproof zippers, and seams to remain watertight