Hi-vis workwear: A quick guide for new buyers

Hi-vis workwear: A quick guide for new buyers

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If you are working in an environment where there are a lot of people and machinery moving around, or there are low light conditions, you might benefit from hi-vis clothing.

Construction sites, railroads, roadworks, warehouses and other work sites can often be dangerous, and it's important that you can be seen.

Wearing a hi-vis vest or other hi-vis clothing is essential in keeping you and everyone else working and visiting the site as safe as possible and minimising the chance of an accident occurring.

For those that are new to the world of hi-vis clothing, it's important that you get a firm grasp of the basics before you make any type of purchase.

Having a good understanding of the different options available is crucial in helping you to find the right type of clothing for the environment you will be working in.

Made in fluorescent colours, this type of clothing will ensure that you stand out during the daylight hours, and the retroreflective material that is used will also make sure that you can be seen when there are lowlight situations.

Let's take a look at some tips to help you choose the right hi-vis workwear for your work and the job site you will be working on.

Required by law

Wearing hi-vis clothing is not only advisable in Australia, but it is also often a legal requirement.

Australian working standards require that workers wear hi-vis clothing so that they can be seen easily whether they are working on the road, on a construction site, or they are operating machinery.

The clothing you buy must adhere to the AS/NZS standards to ensure you are fully compliant with the law. Remember that just because an item of clothing is brightly coloured does not mean that it will necessarily be good enough to meet the required standard.

Two primary standards

There are two main standards that you need to be aware of; AS/NZ 4602.1 and AS/NZ 1906.4. AS/NZ 4602.1 is the standard of garments that need to be worn in high-risk environments.

This standard is aimed at keeping employees safe when there are moving vehicles and equipment that could put the employee at risk.

AS/NZ 4602.1

AS/NZ 4602.1 hi Vis clothing can be certified as Class D, Class N or Class D/N.

Class D clothing should be used in daytime conditions only, ensuring that employees are easily visible during daylight hours.

For example, a hi-vis yellow jacket that does not have reflective tape would meet these requirements.

However, these garments must be designed in one of the approved colours which are limited to red, yellow, orange/red and orange with yellow.

In terms of coverage, these hi-vis clothing pieces must cover the upper body. A luminous colour must also cover a minimum of .4m2 of the upper body, and any logos must be a maximum of 10cm tall or wide to be compliant.

Class N is designed specifically for nighttime use and, as you might imagine, has slightly more stringent requirements.

Hi-vis apparel in this bracket must be easily seen under retroreflective lighting such as that of a vehicle headlight.

There are many requirements that these garments must meet; however, the main thing that you need to focus on is the amount of reflective tape they feature.

These pieces must have reflective material at least 50mm wide on the upper torso to meet the Class N requirements.

Class D/N hi-vis clothing can be worn during daytime hours or nighttime hours and must meet the requirements of both Class D and Class N to be acceptable.

AS/NZ 1906.4

AS/NZ 1906.4 hi-vis clothing refers to retroreflective clothing used in controlling road traffic.

This standard is much more detailed than AS/NZ 4602.1, specifying which materials can be used as well as the colorimetric and photometric qualities that must be included in the design.

It also goes into much more detail regarding what washing these hi-vis items will do to the clothing.

Typically, these garments can only be washed thirty times as after this, they will begin to diminish in quality and their integrity will be compromised.

This standard covers three primary classes; F, R and FR. F is a fluorescent fabric that can be used during daytime only, R is for reflective apparel that can be used at nighttime and FR refers to apparel that can be worn both during the day and at nighttime.

Make the right decision for your needs and stay safe at work

There is a lot to consider when you're buying hi-vis clothing for work, and it's important that you make the right decision for your particular situation.

Not only will choosing the right clothing ensure that you stay safe on the job site, but you can also rest easy knowing that you are compliant with Australian standards.

Be sure to do your research and choose the right items for your needs, so you remain safe and stay within the law when you're at work in the future.