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Be safe; Be Seen – the importance of high visibility

Be safe; Be Seen - the importance of high visibility

As the days get shorter and the Winter Solstice fast approaches, the job of ensuring workers can be seen during daytime hours becomes as important as it is at night. For roadworkers, airport ground service personnel and others working in potentially dangerous conditions, high visibility clothing is vital.

Many factors must be taken into account to ensure that at risk workers have the correct high visibility clothing and equipment for both the job they are doing and the conditions in which they are working.

What to consider when procuring hi vis clothing

To be effective, hi vis workwear must be in a correct colour that will allow the wearer to stand out against their background and have the correct amount of reflective tape. EN20471 standard stipulates exactly what is required. Regulations apply to highway use and not specifically to the airports, although authorities are likely to use the EN20471 to specify clothing on airports.

It should also be stored correctly, kept clean, in good condition, and examined at each use by a competent person. According to the Health and Safety Executive, anyone responsible for providing safety clothing, equipment and PPE in the workplace should ask themselves the following:

· Is it suitable for the risk?

For people working in potentially dangerous environments, such as the roadside, reduced visibility is a huge risk to safety. So, consider the work environment and the changeable levels of visibility involved. For example, would the hi vis clothing still be effective in severe weather conditions, such as fog and snow? Will workers be seen as effectively at night time as they would in the day?

· Is it suitable for the job?

While hi vis clothing is vital to ensuring a worker can be seen, it is also important to ensure that it doesn’t hinder performance or present risk of injury. People working in warehouses may find that a loose fitting hi vis tabard has a tendency to snag on moving machinery. Equally, hi vis coats may be too warm in summer months, which could lower productivity or mean that they are not to be worn. Hi vi waistcoats or hi vis overalls with the appropriate HV qualities could be supplied as an alternative.

· Is it suitable for the wearer?

Hi vis clothing should be comfortable and fit the wearer properly. It should cause the minimum of restriction to the wearer’s movement.

· Is it compatible with other forms of PPE?

If two or more types of Personal Protective Equipment are to be worn, they should not interfere with each other. In the case of aircraft refuelling staff, for example, regulation fire retardant protective clothing must satisfy high visibility requirements, without either impeding the effectiveness of the other.

Similarly, wet or cold weather clothing should have suitable hi vis qualities, or be capable of being worn under hi vis clothing.

· Are there any standards which the hi vis clothing should meet?

All high visibility clothing should be manufactured to EN ISO 20471.

How to take care of your hi vis workwear

It’s vital that hi vis workwear be kept in a clean state and in good working order so as to remain effective and ensure workers can be seen. Soiled or dirty clothing will inhibit reflectivity and the clothing will not meet the required safety standard, rendering it non-compliant.

It should be checked before being given to employees, who should also have an explanation of the risks, why the hi vis workwear is needed, how and when it should be worn. They should also be adequately supervised to ensure clothing is worn correctly and whenever it is needed.

Contego Safety Solutions offers a broad range of high visibility clothing and equipment to suit most circumstances and budgets, including workwear for those working in airport ground services, local authorities, utilities and construction.

Take a look at our High Visibility Product Buying Guide for detailed information, safety guidelines and product features.

Contego Safety Solutions stocks a wide range of corporate workwear, protective clothing and PPE, including our WEARMASTER® range. We also provide a bespoke uniform design and manufacturing service to ensure that you get precisely what you are looking for in a company uniform.

The friendly and expert team at Contego Safety Solutions is always on hand to give advice and guidance on the right PPE and protective clothing for your needs. Contact us now on 0800 122 3323 or to discuss your requirements.