High Visibility Clothing

How high visibility workwear helps you keep workers safe while complying with requirements of the EN 20471 standard.

From heavy equipment handling to traffic control, and from railroad works to electrical maintenance - no matter the industry in which you are active, you want your workers to feel safe and confident at work. During the day, at dusk and at night, inside the factory or outside in any weather condition. In this page, we inform you about the role high visibility clothing should play in selecting the best protective clothing for your organization.

What is high visibility clothing?

High visibility clothing can be defined as ‘clothing that is capable of visually signalling the user's presence’. Wearing high visibility clothing is a requirement in a large range of industries where it is crucial to easily notice workers in any light condition: during the day, but also under illumination of headlights in the dark. Think of hazardous work environments with vehicle operation or mechanized equipment, fog/steam, dust/smoke, limited sightlines and more.

Types of reflective clothing material

High visibility workwear typically consists of three types of reflective clothing materials, being fluorescent material, reflective strips and contrast material. Contrast material is darker but is less sensitive to dirt compared to the fluorescent material and reflective bands, which prevents the garment from losing its functionality even when workers are exposed to dust or dirt (which typically builds up around their ankles, knees, sleeves and abdomen).

FR flame resistant and non flame resistant fabrics for high visibility clothing

Depending on the industry you work in, professionals might also be in need of protective clothing where the fabric contains FR properties. During your search for protective clothing, bear in mind that work hazards like heat, flames, molten metals, radiant heat and electric arc ask for high visibility clothing with FR properties. In this blog we explain what the difference between FR Treated and Inherent FR fabrics are.

There are multiple other industries, like roadwork or certain activities in construction, where non flame resistant high visibility clothing is sufficient in covering work related risks. A risk assessment should help you discover which possible hazards are present in your work environment, helping you select high visibility clothing that meets all requirements.

What is EN ISO 20471?

EN ISO 20471, or ‘ISO 20471:2013’ is the current international standard for high visibility clothing. It was released in 2013, replacing EN 471:2003 A1:2007. The standard is designed to make high visibility an indispensable factor in guarding the safety of professionals during work.

EN ISO 20471 class 1, 2 and 3

EN ISO 20471 can be categorized into three classes, providing high visibility in accordance to the risk zone you work in and the ability of the garment to protect the employee.

  • Class 1: suitable for lower-risk areas, where 0,10 m² retroreflective material and 0,14 m² background material is sufficient to signal the wearer’s presence. For combined performance material, 0,20 m² visible material is required.
  • Class 2: the bearer of this certificate should purchase clothing where 0,13 m² of retroreflective material and 0,50 m² of background material is visible.
  • Class 3: in areas with high risk, professionals should wear high visibility clothing: 0,20 m² of retroreflective material and 0,80 m² of background material should be visible.

EN ISO 20471 also sets requirements for the specific placement of the fluorescent and reflective materials. A garment is allowed to be manufactured in the colors yellow, orange or red. In addition, the EN ISO 20471 requires the color coordinates and illumination factors to fall between certain limits.

High visibility clothing ambulance personnel

Visible paramedics

The new uniform for Dutch ambulance personnel is a good example of high visibility clothing. In the realization of these new uniforms, all partners of the value chain played an important role. A story about an impressive collaboration.

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Let employees feel safe and confident during the entire lifetime of your high visibility garment

As a Health and Safety professional, you want your workers to feel safe, comfortable and confident while wearing their garments. Clothing that is truly protective stretches far beyond the process of selecting and manufacturing the garment - it encompasses its entire lifetime.

Be aware that factors like exposure to sunlight, dust and dirt have a diminishing effect on the illumination abilities of high visibility clothing. Also washing, ironing and repairing activities should be conducted in a way that the fabric does not wear down before its intended lifetime.

That is why at TenCate Protective Fabrics, we encourage you to collaborate with fabric suppliers, garment makers and industrial laundries. Together with our partners we are able to develop protective fabrics that are Made for Life. Read more and find out how you can activate your role in the protective clothing value chain.

Learn how to build a strong safety culture and feel confident in all your protective clothing solutions

When you are in the process of improving your worker’s protective clothing, you most likely encounter multiple challenges, such as assessing relevant risks in your work environment, determining which rules and regulations to comply with, and prioritizing your protective clothing specifications. This FR Fabrics Guide educates you on all relevant aspects of protective clothing and helps you prioritize:

FR Fabrics Guide

Download the FR Fabrics Guide

This complete and comprehensive FR Fabrics Guide helps you by educating all relevant aspects of protective clothing and helps you prioritize during your selection process:

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