Guide to high-visibility clothing standards
High visibility clothing standards
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) refers to any garment or equipment that protects a wearer’s body from workplace injury and infection. These range from larger protective clothing items, such as jackets, boiler suits and trousers, to footwear, helmets, gloves and visors.
High visibility clothing is a type of PPE that’s highly reflective, making it easily discernible in darkness and other low light conditions. However, high visibility garments, particularly helmets, should also be used in daylight to increase the visibility of the wearer when much of their body is obscured from view.
To provide the highest level of protection and comfort, there are a number of specifications to which your high visibility garments should adhere.
EN 20471 (High visibility)
EN 20471 is the European standard for high visibility clothing and deals specifically with specifications of high visibility clothing. When purchasing high visibility workwear, it’s important to remember that only yellow and orange vests are fully compliant with the EN 20471 standard. Reflective tape on high visibility garments must also be at least 50mm wide.
Garments that comply with EN 20471 are divided into 3 levels of protection, depending on the visibility level they provide.
Class 1 defines the lowest visibility level and garments with this rating should only be used in minimal risk areas (such as off road).
An example of a Class 1 garment would be a pair of high visibility trousers with two 5cm reflective bands around each leg. However, these can become Class 3 when worn with a Class 3 jacket.
- Minimum background material: 0.14m2
- Minimum retro-reflective material: 0.10m2
The Class 2 defines garments with an intermediary visibility level, with a typical example including vests. It requires that clothing has two 5cm bands of reflective tape around the body or one 5cm band around the body and braces to both shoulders.
- Minimum background material: 0.50m2
- Minimum retro-reflective material: 0.13m2
The Class 3 defines the highest level of visibility. An example would be a jacket with long sleeves or a jacket and trouser suit. It requires two 5cm bands of reflective tape around the body and arms, as well as braces over both shoulders.
If your employees are working near high speed roads, then Class 3 garments must be used.
- Minimum background material: 0.80m2
- Minimum retro-reflective material: 0.20m2
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