Hi-vis clothing and workwear are specific forms of apparel designed to increase visibility in low light conditions. Hi-vis clothing can dramatically reduce injury and accidents on the worksite, be it the added level of visibility for workers, pedestrians, cyclists and drivers.
As an employer, it is generally your duty to either provide workers with hi-vis apparel directly or facilitate access to it via employee allowance systems. From hi-vis jackets to vests, coveralls, gloves, hats, polos and shirts, each item brings significant benefits to workers across a wide array of industries.
With all of this in mind, let’s delve into a few of the specifics.
Of course, visibility lies at the core of hi-vis clothing and workwear. The signature bright and fluorescent colours dramatically increase a worker’s visibility when illumination and lighting are low. Hi-vis is necessary for work undertaken at dusk, dawn, overnight, or in any indoor environment with poor natural lighting.
Wearing hi-vis clothing is a potentially life-saving measure, particularly when working on roads, scaffolding, train tracks or other high-risk settings. This will not only increase visibility to members of the public but also to your colleagues and fellow contractors.
Tradespeople that operate in the construction, industrial or infrastructure space are constantly exposed to a level of risk on the worksite. For this reason, business owners and project managers need to take the necessary precautionary measures to safeguard their workforce. This includes access to the required hi-vis workwear.
Due to the safety benefits, high-visibility clothing is characterised as a form of PPE (personal protective equipment). As outlined by WorkSafe Australia, the PCBU can either provide Hi-Vis PPE directly or allow employees to access clothing from a company budget.
Injury and Workplace Hazards
Without the proper visibility, workers may fall victim to falling objects and countless other on-site hazards. This risk is also amplified when hi-vis clothing becomes worn, poorly maintained or out-of-date.
As the employer, you must ensure compliance with high-visibility standards across the worksite and any projects that fall under your supervision. A failure to meet the necessary standards not only raises the potential for serious injury, but also any legal implications that follow.
High visibility jackets are one of the most common forms of protective workwear. Beyond the visibility factor, hi-vis jackets keep workers warm and comfortable in the coolest of conditions. Jackets allow others to easily distinguish and recognise the wearer from afar.
These days, hi vis jackets can be purchased in a wide variety of different sizes and styles. Employers and workers can find an array of men’s, women’s and unisex options. Another standard industry practice is to acquire custom branded workwear. This service involves screen printing/embroidery to customise hi-vis jackets with your signature logo, slogan or imprint.
The majority of Australian worksites and industrial operations will have a high-visibility policy in place. This guarantees that any employees either receive custom hi vis workwear or purchase it on their own. Regardless of how they obtain this clothing, such policies dictate that they are unable to work on-site without it.
Repeated or lengthy exposure to Australia’s harsh sun is very dangerous. For this reason, any outdoor hi-vis apparel must come with the correct level of in-built UPF protection. This will provide vital coverage and safeguard your workers from skin damage and life-threatening skin cancer.
If you intend on buying outdoor workwear, ensure that you check the UPF rating prior to purchase.
This should go without saying, but hi-vis workwear is only effective when it features the correct level of brightness and illumination. Approved hi-vis colours typically include orange-red, red, yellow and finally, orange-yellow.
According to the ‘AS/NZ 4602.1: 2011 High visibility safety garments – Garments for high-risk applications’ there are three overriding classifications. These include
1. Class D – Approved for daytime use and must feature an approved colour of hi-vis material that covers the entire upper torso. The fluorescent fabric should cover at least 0.4m2 of the upper torso.
2. Class N – Designed specifically for low-light night-time conditions. Class N apparel must provide a high level of visibility when viewed under retroreflected light (such as car headlights).
3. Class D/N – This apparel can be used under both day and night conditions, providing equal safety coverage for a wide range of light and illumination levels.
Road and Traffic Workwear
Hi-vis jackets and workwear have long been a staple for roadworkers. Whether they are revamping roads and highways, digging up footpaths or directing traffic, Australian regulatory bodies have outlined specific high-visibility regulations for this industry.
Here are the three classifications for the ‘AS/NZ 1906.4: 2010 Retroreflective materials and devices for road traffic control purposes – High visibility materials for safety garments.’
1. Class F – The Class F distinction applies to fluorescent hi-vis clothing suited to daytime standards and conditions.
2. Class R – Class R refers to reflective apparel designed for high visibility under night-time conditions.
3. Class RF – Suitable for both day and night conditions. The most versatile option of all three.
Acquiring Hi-Vis Workwear
The local market for hi-vis workwear has expanded significantly over recent years. Countless Australian companies now offer a full selection of men’s, women’s and unisex hi-vis apparel, with items to cover your workers from head to toe.
Another area of expansion is the world of custom branded workwear. From custom hi-vis jackets to coveralls, polos, gloves and more, a business can readily acquire one-of-a-kind imprinted high-visibility clothing.
Selecting the Right Supplier
With so many workwear suppliers on the market, it can be difficult to narrow down your selection to one. However, there are several aspects that should inform this decision.
Experience – Does the supplier have a track record in the workwear industry? If so, how long have they specialised in hi-vis apparel?
Industry Compliance – Does their selection of hi-vis workwear comply with all current regulations and safety standards? Is this compliance a point of emphasis on their website?
Price – Do they offer a fair price for apparel, shipping and delivery? Are there any discounts provided for bulk orders?
Customer Service – Are your enquiries answered in a prompt fashion? Is an on-site fitting service included?
Branding – Is customisation an option? If so, do they offer both screen printing and embroidery?