High visibility safety apparel (also known as hi-vis safety apparel or HVSA) encompasses a range of garments like coveralls, vests, gloves, or bibs, designed with a focus on incorporating bright, reflective, and retroreflective materials. When workers’ visibility could be compromised by elements such as trees or signs, it becomes crucial to equip them with HVSA to enhance their safety. Research underscores that the human eye is most attuned to large, contrasting, bright, and moving objects. As a result, creating a high color contrast between the clothing and the work environment emerges as an effective strategy to increase worker visibility.
Requirements for hi-visibility safety clothing for American workers are found in the ANSI/ISEA 107-2020 (American National Standard for hi-visibility Safety Apparel and Accessories). This is the fifth edition of the standards and it builds from the previous 2015 standards to provide enhanced visibility workplace safety. Since 2015, many new garments classified as hi-visibility safety apparel (HVSA) have been added to the industry. You can download a free copy of the full ANSI/ISEA 107-2020 report from our website here. As a leader in the Personal Protective Equipment industry, Liberty Safety remains committed to delivering top-notch, high-quality high visibility garments while seamlessly integrating any updates introduced by the evolving ANSI/ISEA standards. As the PPE industry changes to adopt these new standards, we will continue to meet the latest standard updates with HiVizGard™ safety apparel.
OSHA recommends that a hazard assessment be carried out on each job site to evaluate the workplace or worksite to determine possible hazards that could be encountered on the job. An assessment includes asking questions like:
- What is the type and nature of the work carried out – including the tasks of both the HVSA wearer and any drivers?
- What are the conditions during work?
- Will it be indoor or outdoor work?
- What’s the temperature?
- How busy is the traffic flow?
- How many other workers will be there?
- How long will various traffic hazards be an issue?
- What are the lighting conditions, and will they change during the work shift? (sunlight, overcast sky, fog, rain, or snow).
- Will traffic volume, vehicle sizes, speeds, and stopping conditions be an issue?
- Will there be any hazard controls already in place (e.g., barriers, traffic cones, etc.)?
- What distractions might occur that would draw workers’ attention away from hazards?
- How are the sightlines for vehicle operators?
With the information gathered from a full assessment, then the worker can select the proper high-visibility PPE. Using hi-vis safety apparel helps defend against accidents by providing more warning to others that are working in the same area.
Fluorescent material uses unique pigments to send light back to a viewer making it even more visible to them. It’s a material that can only function properly when there is natural sunlight. Fluorescent clothing appears brighter than the same-colored non-fluorescent material, especially under low natural light (e.g., cloud cover, fog, dusk, dawn, etc.).
It’s a property that offers daytime visibility enhancement not found with other colors. Fluorescent colors provide the most significant contrast against most backgrounds. They also enhance daytime visibility, especially at dawn and dusk.
Retroreflective material returns light towards the direction of the light source. That means a driver can see the light reflected from the retroreflective material on a worker’s clothing (as long as the person is standing in the light’s beam).
Retroreflective materials are most effective under low-light-level conditions. Most surfaces are already light reflective. In contrast, reflective materials “throw-back” or bounce light off their surface so that they can be seen.
Combined-performance material is a retroreflective material that is also fluorescent. Not all retroreflective materials are fluorescent, however, and not all fluorescent materials are retroreflective.
When it comes to selecting the right hi-vis safety apparel, there are key factors to keep in mind, aligning with both ANSI recommendations and your specific needs. These aspects ensure optimal performance, visibility, and comfort for your workforce, as well as compliance.
- Larger and brighter is more visible than smaller and less reflective. More coverage provides better visibility in all viewing directions.
- Stripes of colors contrast with the background material to provide good visibility. Stripes on the arms and legs can give visual clues about the person’s motion wearing the garment.
- When the background material is bright-colored or fluorescent material, it is more visible.
- Workers should look for a specific fit for their body type for safety and best performance. Consider the bulk of the clothing worn underneath hi-vis garments too. Clothing should stay in place and sit well on your body during your work.
- It should be comfortable and lightweight to wear and any parts that touch the worker’s body shouldn’t have sharp edges or cause irritation or injuries.
- Hi-vis apparel shouldn’t be covered up with other clothing or equipment including gloves, belts, or boots.
- Daylight – Bright colors are more visible than dull colors under daylight conditions.
- Low light conditions – Fluorescent colors are more effective than bright colors under low light (e.g., dawn and dusk).
- Dark conditions/worksites – Greater retroreflectivity provides greater visibility under low light conditions. Retroreflective materials provide higher visibility over bright colors. Fluorescent materials are completely ineffective at night.
- Caring for your hi-visibility apparel is pivotal in sustaining its effectiveness. Contaminated or dirty materials are less retroreflective.
- Change clothing that shows signs of wear and tear, soiling, or contamination because they won’t be as effective for increased visibility.
A diverse range of industries leverage the advantages of high visibility safety apparel. Work performed in or near traffic or where moving or heavy equipment is necessary requires workers to be easily seen to help avoid injury. You’ll find the need for hi-vis apparel in industries like: