Hi Visibility Regulations Explained

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Hi Visibility Regulations


High visibility clothing The Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 require many factors to be taken into account to ensure that the correct clothing is chosen for a particular task.

Is it suitable for the risk?

Choice of clothing should take into account ambient and artificial lighting conditions at the workplace, and the effect of conditions such as fog and snow.

For some jobs an HV waistcoat, for example, may be all that is needed, but those workers who are particularly at risk, eg from moving vehicles (marshallers or maintenance workers), may need full body HV clothing so that they are as visible as possible to the driver. HV clothing should provide adequate protection both during the day and at night, as well as in adverse weather. As a rule: the darker the conditions or worksite, the greater the amount of HV clothing required.

To be effective HV clothing should be of a colour that will allow the wearer to stand out against the ambient background found in the working environment. In practice the best colours for this purpose are likely to be day-glo, or fluorescent yellow. Where necessary the clothing should also incorporate retroreflective material to make the wearer visible when seen in headlights in poor lighting conditions or during darkness. This may require reflective strips at or below waist level on waistcoats or jackets, or strips on trousers.

Is it suitable for the job?

People working in warehouses may find that some types of loose fitting tabard may snag on moving machinery parts. Also HV coats may be too warm in summer months, in which case, waistcoats or overalls with the appropriate HV qualities could be supplied. Remember: PPE must always be suitable for the work; if the way of working changes - check that the PPE is still suitable.

Is it suitable for the wearer?

HV clothing should be comfortable and fit the wearer properly. It should cause the minimum of restriction in the wearers movement.

Is it compatible with other forms of PPE?

If two or more types of PPE are worn, they should not interfere with each other. Therefore, in the case of aircraft servicing staff for example, protective clothing for chemical spills should also provide the necessary level of conspicuity. Similarly, wet or cold weather clothing should have suitable HV qualities or be capable of being worn under HV garments.

Are there any standards which the clothing should meet?

HV clothing should be manufactured to a recognised standard. The new British Standard for high visibility warning clothing is BS EN 471. This is a harmonised European standard produced with the legal requirements for PPE in mind. Clothing which conforms to the standard is marked with a pictogram like this:


This is the European standard mark


The first number (X) indicates the class of conspicuity, this depends on the minimum area of conspicuous materials that are incorporated into the clothing, with Class 3 being the best and Class 1 the lowest; the second number (Y) indicates the retroreflection performance with Class 2 being more visible than Class 1 when seen in headlights during darkness. The standard gives specifications for coveralls, jackets, waistcoats, tabards, trousers and harnesses.

From July 1995, new clothing must be 'CE' marked to show it meets the new European rules on the manufacture of PPE. Remember: the CE mark only means that the clothing meets the standard. It does not mean it can be used in all situations. HV clothing must be suitable for the actual conditions of use.

Source: HSE

EN471 Specification for High Visibility Clothing

EN471:2003 (High-visibility warning clothing for professional use)

EN471:1994 has been superceded by EN471: 2003

This revised standard is intended to encompass all previous 1994 requirements while allowing for more "Corporate" styling without reducing personal safety. For example; retro reflective tape can be positioned at angles +/- 20degrees.

Garments tested to EN471: 1994 can continue to be sold, however any new designs must be tested to the revised standard.

What you need to know There are 3 classes of garment type based on the levels on conspicuity they provide.

On all garments the retro-reflective tape must not be less than 50mm wide.

CLASS 3: Highest Level of conspicuity

Minimum background material 0.8m2

Minimum Retro-reflective material 0.2m2

i.e. Jackets with sleeves to be worn in accordance with Clause 4.2.4 and to Class 3 on dual carriageway roads with a speed limit of 50mph or above


Minimum background material 0.5m2

Minimum Retro-reflective material 0.13m2


Minimum background material 0.14m2

Minimum Retro-reflective material 0.10m2 i.e.

Minimal risk such as off road activities. Hi-vis trousers will commonly meet this standard when worn separately from upper garments.

Across Europe, the publication of the standard as EN ISO 20471:2013 sees the withdrawal of the high-visibility standard EN 471:2003+A1:2007. This will take effect from September 30th 2013, but the existing clothing conforming to previous standards will still be acceptable for use for some time in the appropriate circumstances. The new EN ISO standard makes the important point that the selection of high-visibility clothing should be based on a risk assessment. Also, the standard is intended for clothing that is to be used for occupational activities – it is not intended for sport and leisure activity high-visibility garments, which are assessed under other standards.

The standard consists of a three-class system:

The design requirements set out in the standard EN ISO 20471 maintains a three-class system for garments, which is based on minimum areas of visible high-visibility materials present in a garment, whereby Class 3 garments provide the highest level of conspicuity. The standard also permits this performance class to be met by specifying a single garment or an ensemble – for instance, a classified jacket and a classified pair of trousers. Where an ensemble is specified, this will be deemed to meet the requirements of the standard only when the supplier provides clear instructions on how the classification has been achieved. A Class 3 garment is required to cover the torso and have sleeves with reflective bands or/and trouser legs with reflective bands.

The standard demands uniformity in the design of high-visibility garments. This is because the conspicuousness of a garment wearer is dictated as much by the design of a garment as the distribution and placement of visibility materials within it. The specific design requirements for garments are defined according to the general design of a garment, with types being defined as follows:

Class 2: Garments only covering the torso – for example, vests and tabards

Class 2.x: Garments covering the torso and arms – such as jackets, shirts, coats and t-shirts

Class 1.x: Garments covering legs – for instance, waistband and bib and brace trousers, and shorts

Class 2.x: Garments covering torso and legs – including coveralls without sleeves

Class 3: Garments covering torso, arms and legs – for example, coveralls with sleeves.

Source: SATRA

Employers must:

Provide any HV clothing needed for the job free of charge to any employees who may be exposed to significant risks to their safety;

Maintain HV clothing in a clean state and in good working order. It should be checked before being given to employees; provide storage facilities for clothing when not in use;

Provide adequate information, instruction and training to enable employees to use HV clothing correctly. This should include an explanation of the risks, why the clothing is needed, how and when it should be worn; and supervise employees to ensure that they wear the clothing correctly and whenever it is needed.


Employees should always wear the HV clothing provided and used as instructed by your employer. Look after clothing issued to you, check for and report any damage or defects in your hi vis clothing to your employer. Use any storage facilities provided when the clothing is not in use. Remember: damaged or ill-fitting clothing will not protect you properly.

Source: HSE