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How to Pick the Best Hi Vis Vests for Your Team

Posted by Xamax on 12/03/18 11:45

High visibility clothing isn't a fashion statement - it's a necessity to keep workers safe. They allow wearers to be easily seen in a variety of light conditions - from darkness and other low light conditions to even broad daylight if much of the wearer's body will be obscured from view. Here are some tips on how to pick hi vis vests for your team. 

Construction workers wearing hi vis vests

To pick the best vests, you should consider the following factors (which also apply to the other types of hi vis clothing) and answer these questions: 

What are the Standards for Hi Vis Clothing? 

As hi vis clothing, such as vests, are a form of PPE that's supposed to protect the wearer's body from workplace hazards and injuries, there are a number of health and safety laws surrounding what should and shouldn't be worn.

In 2013, the International Organisation for Standardisation updated the standards to ISO 20471. It's important to realise and remember that only yellow and orange vests are fully compliant with this new standard and reflective tape must be at least 50mm wide

HSE vest standard

Image credit

The HSE recommends that hi vis vests should be marked in the above way. Out of interest, X refers to the class of conspicuity (the area of conspicuous materials incorporated into the clothing) and Y refers to the retroreflection performance. 

Garments that comply with the EN 20471 are divided into three levels of protection, which are based on the type of clothing and the level of visibility they provide:

class 1

  • The lowest visibility level
  • Should only be used in minimal risk zones e.g. off-road sites
  • An example would be a pair of hi vis trousers with two 50mm reflective bands around each leg

class 2

  • Medium visibility level
  • Should be worn by roadway workers and public safety personnel
  • 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

class 3

  • The highest level of visibility
  • Two bands of reflective tape around the body and arms, plus braces on both shoulders
  • An example would be a jacket with long sleeves or a jacket and trousers worn together


What Makes a Good High Visibility Vest?

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 be doing and what hazards they might be exposed to. Typically, these vests are commonly worn by workers who are 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's vital that they are as visible as possible. Drivers must be able to see them from all angles and from afar. 

Xamax hi vis vest Portwest hi vis executive vest

We recommend Xamax Hi Vis Vest or Portwest Hi-Vis Executive Vest

When it's too warm to wear a jacket, vests are a good alternative. However, if it's too warm to wear a jacket but still cold, invest in vests with insulating lining that keeps your workers warm and visible. 

Yoko hi vis reversible fleece vestWe recommend Yoko Hi Vis Reversible Fleece Vest (also comes in orange)

It's 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 isn't always enough. Make sure that they're also using breathable waterproof rain gear alongside their high visibility equipment. 




How Often Should You Replace Them?

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're used. Be aware that if your workers are wearing their vests in hazardous conditions, such as extreme weather or temperatures, the garments won't last as long. 

The key is to keep an eye out for these factors:

  • If it's showing signs of damage such as tears, cracks, deep scratches or gouges
  • If it's 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
  • If it's heavily soiled or damaged from UV rays, chemicals or sunlight

Keep this in mind: When the vests are no longer working to keep your workers safe, whether it means they're torn or the reflective bands are peeling off, it's time to replace them.


Should You Invest in Customised High Visibility Vests?

While it's not necessary, branding your workwear can bring a plethora of benefits to your company. Think about a McDonald's worker or a UPS courier. Both wear branded uniforms which make them instantly recognisable.

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're embedding your company into the subconscious of the public by boosting your reputation. 

Customised vests don't 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. 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. 

But it's not just high visibility garments that you need to consider if you want to keep your workers safe this season. From the changing weather conditions to new hazards, there's so much more you need to know. Download a FREE copy of our Spring Workwear Guide which contains information and advice on how to clothe and equip your team for the changing temperatures, unpredictable weather and the risks of the great outdoors. 

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Topics: workwear, Safety, Outdoor Workwear