Hi Vis keeps employees safe in hazardous conditions. However, it is only effective when compliant, durable, and suited to your workplace needs. Read our guide to Australian Hi Vis Standards.
We see it on the delivery drivers that bring us our parcels and takeaway, and on the jackets of security guards at our favourite venues. We see it as we drive past roadworks and walk by construction sites. It’s on our firefighters, paramedics, police. The fluro yellow and orange of Hi Vis workwear catches our eye wherever we go, which means it’s doing its job!
Why is Hi Vis abundant across so many workplaces? Maybe that’s a bit of an obvious question; Hi Vis is synonymous with safety regulations. It’s short for High Visibility, because workers wearing it can be easily spotted. However, there’s much more to understand about Hi Vis workwear, how it works, and how the standards change depending on the context of your workplace. Just because your employees are wearing a yellow vest on the worksite doesn’t mean they’re compliant with safety standards!
It’s vital for employers and employees alike to be up to date on the legislation for Hi Vis requirements, to ensure that everyone stays safe, visible and compliant no matter where or when they are working.
Where Is Hi-Vis Required?
Hi Vis is most commonly worn by trades people, labourers and other employees who work in construction, warehousing, factories, mining, traffic management and other industrial work sites. In these potentially dangerous environments, with regular traffic, heavy machinery and hazardous materials, Hi Vis keeps workers visible at all times and prevents accidents or injuries while they work. By law, these work places must have a Hi Vis policy, and all employees must comply by wearing the garments that best protect them.
Of course, because of it’s eye catching qualities, Hi Vis can also be useful to those that work outside of these industries. For High-visibility clothing for use by volunteers, visitors, tour group leaders or employees that you simply want to stand out in non-hazardous workplaces, your Hi Vis doesn’t necessarily need to comply with safety standards – it just needs to stand out!
Classifying Hi Vis
For employees who work around moving vehicles, heavy equipment or machinery, or other potentially high-risk environment, the AS/NZ 4602.1: 2011 High visibility safety garments standard classifies which garments to wear. Depending on the time of day, there are different classes of hi vis garment:
- For daytime use only, providing high visibility in daylight
- However, these are garments that do not provide adequate visibility under low light or night time conditions.
- To meet the standard for Class D, a garment must have an approved colour of high visibility material that encircles the entire upper torso, and the floruescent fabric should cover at least 0.2m² of the upper torso (not including the sleeves).
- Orange-red, Red, Yellow, Orange and Yellow (restricted) are the only colours specified in the standard
- These colours are compliant with chromaticity levels when dyed in synthetic fabrics. Natural fiber garments have a lower chromaticity, and are therefore unsuitable for Hi Vis garments. This excludes circumstances where a synthetic fabric is a risk to the wearer – i.e. risk of ignition.
- See below for examples of Class D compliant garments.
- Designed to provide high visibility in the dark, with retroreflective tape that directs all light back in the direction of the light source – for example, a car’s headlights.
- This tape must be at least 50mm wide, and compliant taping configurations are the Hoop, X Back, or H patterns as specified in the AS/NZS 4602.1 2011 standard.
- For Class N, the colour of the background material of the garment is not specified.
- These garments meet both the Class D and Class N requirements outlined above
- This means they use retroreflective elements on a flourescent background material
Beating the Elements
Workwear often times needs to do more than just allow visibility, it also needs to protect workers against other environmental hazards they might encounter on the job. Fire, electricity, sun, rain, and wind can all hinder or endanger an employee, so they need the right equipment to protect them. Consider the following aspects when you’re choosing a workwear range; prioritizing comfort and safety creates a happy and productive team.
Hi Vis Sun Protection
For employees that are required to work outside, employers must take responsibility for providing sufficient UPF protection. Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) indicates how good the garment is at providing protection against ultraviolet rays. UPF ratings range from UPF 15, to UPF 30, to UPF 50 or 50+. Whilst UPF protection is not an essential requirement, aim to purchase from the ‘Excellent’ category of 50 or 50+ to keep your employees properly protected.
Waterproofing and Breathability
Some garments come with a waterproof rating and/or a breathability rating. These indicate to what extent the garment is water repellant, and how well it allows sweat to pass through to the outside.
Whilst no garment can be 100% waterproof or totally breathable, the rating system gives a good indication as to how you can expect the garment to perform under certain conditions.
|Waterproof Rating||Level of Water Resistance|
|0-5,000mm||No resistance/Little resistance|
|1 6,000-20,000mm||High resistance|
|20,000mm +||Highest resistance|
|Breathability Rating||Level of Breathability|
|5,000 – 10,000g/m²||Some Breathability|
|10,000 – 15,000g/m²||Medium Breathability|
|15,000 – 20,000g/m² & above||High Breathability|
Flame Resistant clothing is required if employees are potentially exposed to flash fires, electric arcs or combustible dust explosions. FR clothing is designed to resist ignition, and will not continue to burn once the initial hazard is over. FR materials do not melt, drip or break open in the event of ignition. This limits the injury to the body area directly impacted by the hazard, and also insulates against thermal hazard, limiting the risk of 2nd or 3rd degree burns.
A second rating is AR, Arc Rating. This measures a FR fabric’s resistance to specifically the risk posed by arc flashes. This AR can either be reported as ATPV (Arc Thermal Performance Value) or EBT (Energy Breakopen Threshold), and is a single number – the higher, the better.
All Arc Rated clothing is Flame Resistant, but not all FR clothing is AR.
Static Electricity Control
Garments that help to reduce and control electrostatic charges that may be generated incidentally by processes or activities that may create an electric shock.
As mentioned previously, the chromaticity levels of natural fibres are not generally high enough to warrant their use in hi vis garments. However, natural fibres such as cotton do not typically attract static electricity, and are considered static neutral. This makes them favourable for use in clothing for those that maybe affected by static electricity, and reduce fire or explosion risk exacerbated by static.
Antia-static garments are manufactured in 100% cotton, 50/50 cotton and polyester blends, or 65/35 polyester and viscose blends. Some other anti-static features can include non-metal buttons, zips and fastenings.
Hi Vis, High Maintenance
Purchasing a perfectly compliant uniform is only part of making sure your employees stay safe on the job. Regular inspections and proper on-site policy ensure all safety equipment is being appropriately worn and maintained.
- Ensure all items are worn correctly with thorough company procedures and policy. Speak directly to employees, and explain why and how they should wear their garments.
- Limit fading or deterioration of garments by storing them out of the heat and away from direct sunlight.
- Keep garments clean by washing/cleaning according to manufacturer’s instructions, and
- Inspect all garments regularly for signs of damage or fading. Most hi vis will need replacing after 6 months.
Hi Vis workwear and PPE can be the difference between staying safe and suffering major injury on the worksite, so it’s important that all equipment is up to the job, to prevent putting any employees in harms way.
So, whenever you’re purchasing new Hi Vis workwear, or inspecting existing garments, here’s a few things to keep in mind:
- Know the standards. Stay educated on current legislation to understand which garments your worksite requires.
- Check the label. Make sure the garment you’re buying complies with the standards you’ll be undertaking. Check that it has been sufficiently tested for colourfastness, UV protection, water fastness, and any other requirements.
- Inspect garments regularly. Washing and wearing will eventually effect a garment. Broken or damaged tape, or faded fluorescent material can all be causes of non-compliance.
Branding Hi Vis
If you’re looking to add Hi Vis items to your uniform range, you might be looking to add your logo or artwork to the workwear items your team will be wearing. There are plenty of benefits to branding to your Hi Vis workwear. It’s opportunity to promote your brand, entice new customers and improve team performance. A branded uniform is also tax deductible
Something to note: for Class D and Class D/N Hi Vis to be compliant, the florescent fabric should cover at least 0.2m² of the upper torso (not including the sleeves). A logo or embellishment that is too large may obstruct some of this visibility colour, and render the garment non-compliant.
At Total Image Group, we offer Embroidery, Screen Printing and Heat Transfer for your branding solutions; read more about our different branding methods. These processes can all be used to brand your chosen workwear, but some methods may be more suitable depending on the garment. Speak to one of our experts for the best advice on how to brand Hi Vis uniform.
Do you need to find a safe and compliant new workwear or hi vis uniform for your business? It can seem like a daunting task, but Total Image Group is here to uncomplicate it. Speak to our team for the best advice on how to keep your team safe and visible at work.
Book in a consultation call
Do you need help working out the best uniform range for you and your business? We can help! To ensure we direct you to the best person in our team to discuss your requirements – whether your uniform and promotional needs are now or in the future – let’s learn a bit more about you. We look forward to speaking soon!