Be Safe, Be Seen This Winter: Hi-Vis Clothing Week 2021 at Safety Direct
Darkness descends early in autumn and winter months. In fact, more pedestrian collisions occur in November through to February, generally from 4pm to 8pm. High visibility (hi-vis) clothing greatly increases the distance at which you can be seen, helping workers, pedestrians, cyclists, and children to stay safe by staying seen.
In darkness or in low-light conditions, a person wearing dark colours is first seen approximately 55 feet away. This gives a driver less than one second of reaction time. With darker winter days and poor weather upon us, it’s more important than ever to ensure your clothing is protecting you.
Choosing the correct hi-vis clothing is important. However, did you know that how you treat the clothing has a great impact on its ability to protect you? Hi-vis clothing is uniquely created so it requires its own unique care. Here is our quick guide on choosing, wearing and caring for your hi-vis.
If you're shopping for workwear you need to be aware of the minimum requirements for your workplace. The workwear standard for hi-vis is the EN ISO 20471, which ranks clothing from Class 1 (lowest level) to Class 3 (highest) and measures factors such as contrast, durability, and reflective properties. These standards can also inform casual buyers who want to maximise the performance of their hi-vis and buy the highest quality they can.
Only fluorescent orange, yellow, and red comply with the standard EN ISO 20471 as these have the greatest contrast against dark backgrounds/skies. The majority of the garment should be brightly coloured fluorescent material. This material is coated with a heat-transferred film that reacts with ultra-violet light (from the sun or other sources) to create that visibility-enhancing glow we associate with hi-vis. Avoid covering hi-vis material (for example, wearing a backpack over your hi-vis vest).
The silvery-grey reflective strips are most commonly made with thousands of microscopic glass beads that strongly reflect direct light (such as car headlamps or streetlights). They are the most powerful part of the hi-vis and are vital to its performance. EN ISO 20471 requires garments with strips placed around the torso, legs, and sleeves. These areas are most effective because your movement draws the eye, increasing reflection and visibility. Never tuck these strips into gloves or boots – they are a key component of the garment’s safety properties.
Hi-vis clothing uses sensitive technology that needs to be protected. The UV film on fluorescent material and the glass beads in the reflective strips can be damaged by dirt, heat, and improper washing/drying. Dirt can scrub off the film or cover the glass beads, obscuring their access to light and ability to reflect it. And excessive heat can peel away the film or warp the adhesive on the reflective strips.
A garment that is not handled correctly will have a shorter shelf life and may no longer be reflective as the materials degrade.
Top tips for caring for your hi-vis include:
- Remove loose dirt or debris with a clean, dry cloth before washing
- Wash on ‘delicate’ cycle with cold water and gentle detergent
- Don’t use bleach or fabric softener
- Line dry or use the ‘no heat’ cycle on a machine
- Store on a coat hanger to prevent creases on the reflective tape
- Always check the label on your garment for unique care instructions
Even with proper care, hi-vis clothing should be reviewed or replaced at least every 6 months to ensure you remain protected and the garment is compliant.
Hi-vis clothing prevents accidents and saves lives. At Safety Direct we offer everything from reflective vests for night walking, biker jackets for cycling, to maximum safety-rating jackets for worksites. We even stock hi-vis vests for dogs.
From November 12th - 19th Safety Direct is offering a 10% discount off all hi-vis clothing using the code ‘HIVIS10’. Choose from vests, jackets, polos, braces and more. Terms and Conditions apply.
Be safe, be seen this winter.