The hi-vis buying guide

hi-vis workwear
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Core motorway vest
Hi-Vis Pro Polo

High-visibility (or hi-vis for short) clothing is essentially workwear for employees in a wide variety of industries. From construction site workers to road labourers to security personnel, there are a multitude of professions in which being seen clearly is of paramount concern. Indeed, any job which takes place outdoors may require a hi-vis vest, since visibility is often poor during the long, dark nights of winter in the UK.

Why hi-vis is important

According to government statistics, being knocked down by a moving vehicle is the second most common cause of death in the workplace in 2019, behind only falls from a height. For that reason, hi-vis vests or jackets are of the utmost importance when working in a transport environment, but they’re also useful in a whole host of other situations. In fact, a highly reflective piece of clothing is advisable for anyone out and about during the early morning or evening, especially if they’re likely to be using roads; cyclists, for example, are prime candidates for hi-vis apparel.

How hi-vis works

The sole purpose of hi-vis clothing is to reflect light as much as possible, thus making the wearer more visible in low-light conditions. This is achieved by producing garments in retroreflective colours such as Hi Vis Orange or Saturn Yellow, which employ sophisticated technology to reflect all light they receive into a single channel of sight. For comparison, the most easily understood touchstone is the cat’s eye found on motorways and other roads all over Britain. The most popular product when it comes to hi-vis clothing is one called Scotchlite, which is manufactured by multinational science-based company 3M. In essence, Scotchlite works like a malleable sheet of microscopic cat’s eyes.

Different levels of hi-vis classification

According to ISO 20471, the international legislation which governs in what conditions hi-vis clothing must be worn, there are three different categories of classification. These are comprised of:

  • Class 3 (Highest protection level) – Workers employed on or near motorways, dual carriageways or other high-speed roads must wear long-sleeve hi-vis garments which meet Class 3 standards. These specify that the bands of retroreflective material must be no narrower than 50mm, with a minimum reflective material of 0.2m2 in size and a background material of no less than 0.8m2.
  • Class 2 (Intermediate protection level) – Anyone working on or near standard roads or in environments which carry a moderate risk must wear Class 2 hi-vis garments. Again, these must have reflective bands of a width of 50mm of more, as well as a total reflective surface area of 0.13m2 or more and a background surface area of 0.5m2 or more.
  • Class 1 (Lowest protection level) – Class 1 hi-vis garments are adequate for situations where enhanced visibility is preferable but not vital, such as off-road purposes or environments where the risk is minimal. Once more, the bands must have a minimum width of 50mm, while the reflective surface area must be equal to or greater than 0.1m2 and the background area must be 0.14m2 or more.

When purchasing a hi-vis piece of clothing, it’s essential that you ensure the manufacturer includes a paper certificate or other form of documentation which proves that the garment adheres to the relevant hi-vis safety standards.

Hi-vis products offered by Garment Printing

At Garment Printing, we stock a wide range of hi-vis attire for all your workwear and safety needs. Each of our items can be fully customised as well, using a range of different techniques such as embroidery, screen printing, direct to garment (DTG) printing, cad cut vinyl printing and transfer printing. This allows you to achieve the aesthetic you want at the price you need. You’ll find the following options in our extensive online catalogue:

  • Hi-vis bomber jackets
  • Hi-vis traffic jackets
  • Hi-vis waistcoats
  • Hi-vis vests
  • Hi-vis hooded sweatshirts
  • Hi-vis joggers
  • Hi-vis t-shirts
  • Hi-vis polo shirts
  • Hi-vis shorts

As you can see, our collection extends far beyond the normal tunics, vests and jackets you might expect to find among most stockists. The lighter items, such as polos, t-shirts and shorts can be especially useful for professions where workers spend much time outdoors during warm months but still need to maintain visibility for safety purposes, such as on a construction site. Here, the heat can make it tempting to remove a vest and just wear a t-shirt underneath; with a hi-vis t-shirt, that problem is sidestepped completely.

Get in touch

Still unsure about which article of hi-vis clothing is most suited to your needs? Our friendly and experienced team are always on hand to answer any questions you might have. Fill out our online form or give us a call on 0207 101 9315 and we’ll do our very best to get back to you within 15 minutes during working hours. We’re here to help!

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