Friday, 8 January 2010

A Guide to High Visibility Clothing

We have all seen workers wearing high visibility clothing, after all that is the purpose of these products, ensuring that people working on building sites, roads, railways, airports forests etc are easily seen for their own safety.

However many people do not know the standards that high visibility clothing must achieve for it to comply with legislation and industry codes of practice.

The most common colours that are used are fluorescent yellow and orange, sometimes you will see people with matching tops and trousers and others with orange trousers and yellow tops and vice versa.


The main standard in the UK and Europe is EN471:2003, this splits down into Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3. Class 3 is of a higher standard than Class 2 as it has higher areas of material and more reflective bands. Class 1 with 0.14 sqm of fluorescent material and 0.10 sqm of retroreflective material is the lowest level and includes garments like over-trousers and harnesses, Class 2 with 0.5 sqm of florescent material and 0.13 sqm of retroreflective materials includes tabards, sleeveless waistcoats, short sleeved shirts and bib and brace trousers, class 3 with 0.8 sqm of fluorescent material and 0.2 sqm of retroreflective materials includes coats, shirts and jackets with sleeves, full body long-sleeved overalls and two piece suits. Also the regulations specify that there must be similar amounts of the fluorescent material on the front and the back of the garment.
The retroreflective bands can be inclined no more than 20°, the bands on the legs can be freely positioned from the bottom of the leg. The bands must not be less than 50mm wide

Class 2
Class 3

As an example of use; workers on dual carriageway roads or motorways with a speed limit of over 50 mph must wear class 3. Those working on other roads with lower speeds can wear Class 2.


In testing these garments to the standard the various components have to fulfil certain criteria:

Retroreflective Materials, brightness after: Rainfall, Temperature variation, Abrasion, Cold folding, Flexing, Washing and Dry Cleaning
Also if the garments are expected to be commercially laundered, the retroreflective material must be tested according to ISO 15797 Industrial Laundering Wash Test Method for 5 cycles.

Fluorescent Materials: UV exposure, Dimensional change, Water vapour resistance, colour fastness, Mechanical properties.

Selection Criteria

When choosing the correct clothing obviously any specific regulations must be taken into account. If there are none of these then the choice should take account of a number of factors; light levels both ambient and artificial, the affects of weather such as fog, snow or rain are some examples.

For some jobs only a Class 1 or 2 may be acceptable but where there is a particular risk then Class 3 will be required.

Remember PPE must always be suitable for the work; therefore you may need specialist fabrics like flame retardant, chemical resistant or anti-static as well as high visibility. Also the PPE must be comfortable for the wearer and should not restrict movement or increase tiredness through either heat build up cold.

Employers must provide the correct equipment free of charge to those employees who need it and must also provide storage facilities for clothing when not in use. They must also provide adequate information, instruction and training to allow the employees to use the HV clothing correctly. This must contain the explanation of why the clothing is needed, the risks and how and when it must be worn.

The employee must wear the clothing as instructed and also look after it, checking for any damage and reporting this to the employer.


As stated before on roads and other areas you can wear yellow, orange or a mix of colours, however this is not the case with workers on the railways.

The Railway Group Standard GO/RT 3279:2008 still requires the garments to conform to EN471:2003 but specifies that the garments must be orange in colour and also they must meet at least Class 2 levels.

The GO/RT standard also states that the visible material of the garment must not be compromised by the addition of company names or logos. Also there are limited titles or job designations allowed these are:-
• Rail Incident Officer (RIO)
• Press Officer
• Recovery Engineer
• First Aider
• Train Operators’ Liaison Officer (TOLO)

There is also a special standard for a High Visibility Mini Vest which has the requirement of 0.26 sqm of orange fluorescent material and 0.12 sqm of retroreflective material. This is below the EN 471 Class 2 level but significantly higher than Class1. The retroreflective material must be no less than 50mm wide and must have one horizontal band not less than 50mm above the bottom edge and then have one band over each shoulder connecting the front and back of the horizontal band. There is also the requirement for the shoulders and sides to be joined by means of touch and close or press stud fastenings, so that they will come apart if caught by an external object. The Pulsarail PR145 Tear Apart Vest on the Granite Workwear website fully conforms to this standard.

There is a full range of GO/RT 3279:2008 standard garments under the Hi Viz Railway (Orange) category including specialist clothing for using with Chainsaws when working on or near railways. Included in this category are a number of accessories including back packs, bags, armbands and warning flags.

Also a full range of Yellow High Visibility garments can be found in the Hi Viz Yellow category, all compliant to EN471:2003. In both categories where the testing certificates are attached to the pages so that you can be sure that the garments comply with the regulations.


Ajay Singh said...

hi i wolud like to appriciate your above post that was such a awosome one thanks

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import said...

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