How Does Reflective High-Visibility Clothing Work?

How Does Reflective High-Visibility Clothing Work?

1st Aug 2022

If you work in an industrial field, chances are you don’t think twice about how your personal protective equipment functions. These items prevent injuries to thousands of workers annually, so it’s essential to understand why they’re so effective. Specifically, how does reflective high-visibility clothing work?

Retroreflective Material

The most notable aspect of hi-vis clothing that makes it “glow” is the inclusion of retroreflective material. Commonly known as reflective stripes, retroreflective fabrics bounce light back to its source.

It does this thanks to tiny glass beads and sometimes aluminum – it’s like having a mirror on your shirt! This is highly effective for roadside construction, as drivers will get a direct view of the wearer. Plus, retroreflective fabrics still shine in overcast weather conditions because the glass beads are incredibly light-sensitive.

Fluorescent Complements

Reflective high-visibility clothing isn’t just made with retroreflective fabrics. Most of the material used in safety garments is fluorescent! But how exactly does fluorescent differ from reflective?

That orange/yellow/green fabric contains special pigments that can absorb ultraviolet lights that are invisible to the human eye. Then, those same pigments release the UV rays but with greater visibility. Unlike retroreflection, fluorescent fabrics are bright during the day and stick out from the surrounding scenery. That’s why both materials are used in tandem to create an always-visible garment.

Safety Markings

Being visible isn’t just about being bright – safety markings help others know which direction you are facing. The front of most hi-vis clothing features two vertical lines from the shoulders to the waist. The back almost always depicts an “X” shape, from shoulders to waist. That way, everyone at the site can know where people are and which direction they are facing.

This aspect is most important for any industrial worker operating in public spaces where cars or trains are present. Some safety garments, like Class 3 apparel, have encircling stripes across the arms and legs for added visibility.

Understanding how reflective high-visibility clothing works is essential for anyone who dons Hi-Vis workwear daily. If you need high-quality safety garments, browse our collection here at SafetyShirtz!