What’s Hi-Vis, and How Can It Help Keep You Safe?


Imagine you're driving at 50 mph down a pitch-black country road. From nowhere, you see a jogger running along the road just ahead of you, head to foot in dark-colored clothing. Chances are it'll give you a fright, but worse, it could be a collision in the making. 

In situations like this, it's easy to understand the extreme importance of hi-vis clothing. Hi-vis literally saves lives and has been doing ever since it was introduced. In your municipality or business, it's likely a vital part of your workers' personal protective equipment.

Let's look at hi-vis in a little more depth. Let's see why it's so important, and how you can use it to stay safe. 

What Is Hi-Vis?

Hi-vis, also called hi-viz and high visibility clothing has an interesting history. 

The concept came about in the 1930s. The story goes that Mr. Bob Switzer damaged his eyesight in an accident in California. While recovering, his brother entertained him with glowing paints.

Mr. Switzer decided that they had huge commercial potential if they could be applied to clothing.

He turned his wife's wedding dress fluorescent to check if it worked. Quite why he chose a wedding dress, we'll never know. Thankfully, this fashion never caught on.

The rest is history. Hi-vis safety clothing was born. 

Regulations for Hi-Vis Apparel

Internationally, hi-vis is regulated by the International Organization for Standardization. Its ISO number is 20471. Guidance specific to the United States is provided by the American National Standards Institute.

There are three main requirements for hi-vis clothing used in professional settings.

1. The material must be fluorescent. This makes it easier to see both in the day and at night. There are three approved material colors for hi-vis clothing - yellow, orange, and red.

2. Along with the main fluorescent material, reflective strips are essential. These provide much greater visibility at darker times of the day. 

3. Some hi-vis clothing may also feature a contrast material on parts that are more prone to dirt. 

It's important to make sure that any logos or branding do not diminish the effectiveness of the hi-vis clothing. This is a great way to promote your business, but it should not reduce the fluorescent area too much and impede its function.

Hi-vis apparel is further broken down into different classes. These provide progressively higher levels of protection, depending on the level of risk. They set out how many square inches of reflective material and background material the garment must contain.

Class 3 provides the highest level of protection. While it may not be recommended for your industry, it does provide the highest level of visibility. This translates into higher levels of safety. 

OSHA Regulation

Certain industries have federal regulations, specifying which workers have to wear hi-vis clothing. This is true for highway maintenance and road construction.

However, OSHA provides key guidelines covering all industries. They mandate that workers must wear hi-vis if they:

  • Work on highway maintenance
  • Work on road construction
  • Work near public vehicle traffic or construction equipment

Many businesses choose to build their own hi-vis requirements based on these principles. They can mandate them for their workers even when there is no federal law for their industry.

States may also impose regulations to govern the use of hi-vis in their jurisdiction. It's good to regularly check these to ensure that your business is fully compliant. 

How Hi-Vis Keeps You Safe

H-vis is an important part of many workers' PPE. But its uses are not limited to job sites. It's also very useful for keeping safe in many recreational settings.

Workplace Settings

Do you oversee workers in industries such as construction, landscaping, or emergency response? Then you know the value of hi-vis.

The most basic piece of hi-vis apparel is the hi-vis vest. It's extremely lightweight. It's easy for workers to slip over what they're wearing.

Other hi-vis clothing options include:

Hi-vis vests and other garments shouldn't restrict their movement but make them incredibly visible. They should fit well over whatever garment is being worn beneath. Expect hi-vis clothing to last for about 6 months before you need to replace it.

Hi-vis clothing isn't just important in outdoor settings, for example on a construction site. It's also important indoors, especially when working with forklifts or scissor lifts.  

A risk analysis of your particular area of work can help you to introduce guidance around hi-vis. The goal is to increase visibility and thereby reduce accidents and near misses. Many industries have done this although not required by law and are reaping the benefits.  

Recreational Uses

Imagine you're the jogger mentioned at the outset. What could you have done to keep yourself safe?

Wearing bright clothing is not enough. You need the protection of hi-vis. Adding a simple hi-vis vest to your ensemble is all you need to make yourself much more visible to oncoming traffic. 

In the colder months, a hi-vis hoodie could be the perfect solution. Its fleecy fabric keeps you warm while allowing you freedom of movement. The hi-vis fluorescent material and reflective strips keep you visible and safe. 

Choose Hi-Viz.com for Your Customer Hi-Vis Clothing

Hi-vis clothing truly is lifesaving. Whether you're using it at work or at play, never underestimate its importance. Make sure that you comply with federal and state requirements for keeping your workers safe. 

At Hi-Viz.com, we have a huge range of quality hi-vis clothing for you to choose from. We also provide custom printing and decoration. Promote your business while keeping your workers safe!

Call us toll-free on 888-724-9980 or contact us online for answers to any questions about your hi-vis needs.