Hi-vis clothing is a necessity to keep your workers safe while on site. This protective clothing allows your employees to be seen easily in a variety of light conditions. For example, you can see them in the dark, low light and even broad daylight. Here are some tips on how to pick hi-vis vests for your team.
To pick the best high visibility vests for your workers, you need to consider the following factors and answer these questions:
- What are the standards for hi-vis clothing?
- What makes a good high visibility vest?
- How often should I replace them?
- Should I invest in customised hi-vis vests?
High visibility clothing are a form of PPE. It protects the wearer’s body from any workplace hazards and/or injuries. There are several health and safety laws surrounding what we should wear.
In 2013, the International Organisation for Standardization updated the standards to ISO 20471. It is important that you understand only the yellow and orange vests fully comply with this standard. The reflective tape also needs to be at least 50mm wide.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommends marking hi-vis vests in the above way. The X refers to the class of conspicuity and the Y refers to the retro reflection performance.
Garments that comply with the EN 20471 are divided into three levels of protection:
Class 1 - Lowest visibility level. We should only use this in minimal risk zones such as off-road sites. An example would be a pair of hi-vis trousers with two 50mm reflective bands around each legs such as the Dickies Waterproof Hi Vis Safety Trousers.
Class 2 - Medium visibility level. Road workers and public safety personnel should wear this. The garment should have two 50mm bands around the body or one band around the body and braces to both shoulders. An example would be a vest such as the Portwest Glowtex Executive Vest.
Class 3 - Highest visibility level. The garment needs two bands of reflective tape around the body and arms. Also there should be braces on both shoulders. An example would be a jacket with long sleeves or a jacket and trousers worn together such as the Xamax Heavy Weight Hi-Vis Parka and Portwest Hi-Vis Xenon Trousers.
If you want to invest in a good hi vis vest for your team, you must first consider what sort of tasks your employees might do and what hazards they might be exposed to. These vests are worn by workers who exposed to public thoroughfares, like roadside workers, for example.
With so much traffic zooming by, these workers are vulnerable to inexperienced or inattentive drivers so it is vital that they are as visible as possible. Drivers must be able to see them from all angles and from afar.
A good example would be the Xamax Hi-Vis Vest or Portwest Hi-Vis Executive Vest:
When it is too warm to wear a jacket, vests are a good alternative. However, if it is too warm to wear a jacket but still cold, invest in vests with insulating lining that keeps your workers warm and visible.
A good example would be the Yoko Hi-Vis Reversible Fleece Vest:
It is not just drivers who may be a hazard. Your workers are also exposed to a variety of weather conditions, from high winds to heavy rain and lightning storms. Ensuring that your workers are seen is not always enough.
Make sure that they are also using breathable waterproof rain gear alongside their high visibility equipment. For example the Portwest Hi-Vis Contrast Softshell is waterproof and windproof:
PPE, such as hi-vis garments, might not last as long as you think. Every item has a recommended shelf life, but it depends on how they are used. Know that if your workers are wearing their vests in hazardous conditions, such as extreme weather or temperatures, the garments will not last as long.
The key is to keep an eye out for these factors:
- Signs of damage - such as tears, cracks, deep scratches, gouges.
- Ill-fitting - a poorly fitted vest will not protect your workers as well as a well-fitted one and it may distract them from safely carrying out their daily tasks.
- Heavily soiled
Keep this in mind: When the vests are no longer working to keep your workers safe, whether it means they are torn or the reflective bands are peeling off, it is time to replace them.
All hi vis vests tend to look the same, but if your workers are wearing vests branded with your company’s logo, you are distinguishing your team from those of other companies. You are embedding your company into the subconscious of the public by boosting your reputation.
Customised vests do not just strengthen your image. They also help to strengthen your team by creating a sense of unity. From schoolchildren to sports teams, uniforms make people feel as though they belong. Your employees will feel more aligned with company goals and values and more motivated to work harder.
Want to Prepare Your Outdoor Workers for Spring?
Hi-vis clothing is a type of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that helps to protect your team while they work outdoors due to its highly reflective nature. But what PPE do you need to keep cool? Vests and jackets are the most common type of hi-vis clothing but you can also invest in hi-vis trousers, gloves, footwear and even hats and visors.