Traffic is dangerous for workers, so it’s essential to outfit them with the right equipment to ensure visibility as well as to protect them from weather and other worksite conditions. Cones, barricades, caution tape, signs, and high-visibility vests play a crucial role in avoiding accidents and injuries.
What exactly is Hi-Vis?
High-visibility (or hi-vis) apparel includes jackets, pants, vests, coveralls, etc. your workers can wear to improve how well others see them in a work environment. By definition, hi-vis clothing has colour properties that are easily discernible from any background and are highly reflective. Hi-vis apparel is especially critical for workers who work around moving vehicles or equipment, especially in low-light conditions.
All compliant hi-vis apparel meets very specific standards for visibility. No less than 40% of the minimum required amount of reflective and background material must be present on both the front and back of the garment when laid flat. This ensures workers will be visible from both front and back.
How Hi-Vis is Measured
The fact that a garment is neon orange, yellow or green does not necessarily mean it is compliant with hi-vis safety standards. To be classified as hi-vis, clothing must meet the specific standards set by organizations such as the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). These organizations work with industry experts, consumer groups and government bodies to establish standards of protection to mitigate typical risk scenarios in different work settings.
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety provides a breakdown to hi-vis clothing standards that meets various working conditions:
- Low Risk Clothing: Work that permits full attention to approaching traffic, when there is ample separation between traffic, and when mobile equipment and vehicles don’t exceed 40km/h.
- Medium Risk Clothing: Work that requires higher visibility in inclement weather and low light, when performing tasks that divert attention from traffic, and where there is close proximity to vehicles that are moving 40-80 km/h.
- High Risk Clothing: Work that takes place in low light or nighttime, when workers must be completely visible at a minimum of 390m, dangerous work and when vehicles exceed 80km/h.
The Canadian Safety Association also has three performance classes that relate to the body coverage requirement for reflective striping. All classes require X back striping, and include:
Class 1: Offers good visibility with lowest recognition coverage, ideal for workers in parking lots, warehouses, sidewalks, etc.
Class 2: Provides moderate body coverage and superior visibility. The upper torso must be fully covered with reflective striping.
Class 3: Meets class 2 standards but has the addition of reflective bands encircling worker arms and legs.
High visibility clothing is essential in many industries. Choosing the right PPE to meet the specific safety requirements for your work environment is paramount. Not only can it reduce injuries, but it can also save lives. Talk to one of our safety experts about the right hi-vis apparel for your workplace and be sure to browse shopbunzlsafety.ca for our complete line of traffic safety gear.