Hi-vis rules and requirements at work

hi-vis clothing

For those of us who know anything about hi-vis jackets and clothes we know this, usually when we are handed them, we need to wear them; moreover we trust that they have been handed over by someone who requires us to wear them. 

But what are the actual rules about hi-vis workwear and when does it apply that we must wear them or not?  Also why is it important and what kinds of gear are actually required? This is what we are going to answer in today’s blog. 


A brief history of hi-vis workwear

Hi-vis workwear dates back to the early 1930s when American Bob Switzer whose ambitions of becoming a doctor ended when he was injured in an industrial accident during the 1930s. While recuperating, he developed a fluorescent paint before fashioning the first item of high-visibility clothing from his wife’s wedding dress.


What are the benefits of hi-vis workwear

The simplest answer is that they make you visible. That’s important because, unlike the inventor, we need to be seen in an industrial setting which in turn will reduce workplace accidents and fatalities which is only a good thing. No one should be going to work worrying about their safety and that of their fellow employees. 


What types of hi-vis need to be worn? 

This is the question that stumps many businesses as it is dependent on the line of work you are in, and where you are also operational. Depending on the level of lighting and ambient light you may only require a hi-visibility jacket, or at other times a full dress uniform with high visibility. This is more common on worksites where personal protective equipment (PPE) will be needed at all times because of the amount of activity that is occurring at any given time. Jackets, trousers, even hard hats and worker boots need to be worn and clearly identifiable at all times to ensure safety is met. 

There may be occasions when hi-vis clothing is added to the standard equipment as well such as jackets and over-trousers, again, this is all dependent on the type of work you are carrying out and where it is taking place. 


What does the law say about hi-vis clothing? 

Employers are required to provide hi-vis clothing to their employees and their employees are required to wear it; especially where on assessment you must wear it. In low light and poor lighting conditions your employer must provide adequate protection and it must be adhered to. “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.” 


Where will you commonly see hi-vis clothing? 

There are lots of industries where high visibility clothing is used, the more common applications include; 

  • Building trade 
  • Warehouse staff/packers 
  • On site inspection teams
  • Bike/motorbike couriers
  • Medical response staff 
  • Safety/security personnel 


When it comes to hi-vis workwear, you want to assess the requirements for you and your team. Where machinery is being operated or mechanical equipment is being used coupled with ambient and artificial lights or therein lack of, you will need to seek some high-visibility gear. Consult with a health and safety assessment team to ensure that you are compliant and that you are also aware of your legal obligations. 


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