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The Importance of High Visibility Clothing in the Workplace

Posted by Jack Durant at

The correct use of high visibility (HV) clothing is a relatively simple and inexpensive precaution to put into effect, but it plays a major role in maintaining safety and preventing accidents. Here, we review why HV clothing is important in the workplace.

High-visibility clothing reduces the risk of accidents and fatalities in busy environments where there is vehicular traffic - in construction areas, marshalling yards and industrial premises. At locations such as these, high visibility workwear or PPE (personal protective equipment) is required by Health and Safety regulations. Similarly, in large storage aisles and warehouses, forklifts can be relatively silent if their warning horns are momentarily not in operation. In this type of environment or when working near entrance and exit areas, reflective over vests or jackets are required as a minimum. Professional Health & Safety advisors will be able to assist with carrying out a local risk assessment and advising employers and company management. 

Depending on ambient lighting and any electrical illumination, full body hi-vis clothing may be necessary so that the drivers of approaching vehicles can see the wearer more easily. This is especially important in traffic management roles; here, reflective trousers and jackets are much more noticeable and, therefore, help to increase the margin of safety. Probably the most effective choice of garment colour is fluorescent or Day-Glo yellow. However, the contrast of the wearer against any background must be considered for safety where there is less than optimal lighting; other choices of high visibility colour such as lime green or orange are available. Extra reflective strips are an additional bright feature on some types of waistcoat and trousers. 

In addition to employees, site visitors may be requested to wear brightly coloured, reflective over jackets or waistcoats to maintain visibility and safety. Lightweight options may be preferred for summer use, while thicker and heavier hi-vis garments with thermal insulation are clearly suitable for winter temperatures. Hi-vis clothing or jackets are suggested for motorcycle couriers to help prevent accidents or life-threatening injuries.

Notably, employers are required to provide adequate and serviceable high visibility clothing to employees who are exposed to significant risks. In turn, employees are obliged to wear it. BS EN 471 governs HV clothing; this British Standard is harmonised with European legislation, which states that this type of safety workwear must be conspicuous in appearance and reflective. The CE kite mark also indicates that hi-vis clothing meets the necessary stringent quality requirements.

In addition to the safety advantages which high visibility clothing provides, it can be used to good effect at a corporate level to identify staff and authorised personnel in any given location - particularly where access is controlled or restricted for safety or security reasons. This uniformity of appearance makes it easier for approaching visitors to identify company employees at goods inwards or security gates. It also fosters a team spirit in employees and increases awareness of a company’s presence by promoting a visible corporate identity.

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