Countless professions demand clothing that boosts an individual’s visibility. These items protect employees from traffic and other hazards, and they also increase communication and productivity. However, there are a lot of different classifications and kinds of hi-vis garments and accessories, which means purchasing the right gear can quickly become overwhelming.
The easiest way to ensure that you buy the correct equipment is to understand the nature and requirements of your specific industry. This blog will go over these factors and offer further tips for making a smart purchase. Here are a few things to consider when you’re choosing hi-vis apparel for yourself and your business.
Why Hi-Vis Apparel Is Important
High-visibility garments are utilized in a plethora of industrial fields to protect employees and increase productivity and communication. Hi-vis items ensure that passersby and other workers are aware of your presence. This is valuable for situations such as roadside construction, railroad work, and nighttime projects. These clothing articles are essential for any environment with low visibility and high amounts of hazards.
Hi-vis clothing is also key in boosting project productivity and communication. Work site managers and forepersons can lead more effectively if they can see where all their employees are. Additionally, these clothing items can indicate which direction an individual is facing, even from a far distance. As you can see, specific industries heavily rely on hi-vis clothing as a valuable form of personal protective equipment.
For some occupations, wearing hi-vis clothing is a legal requirement. Thanks to the Federal Highway Worker Visibility Rule and government agencies such as OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration), individuals working adjacent to traffic or in settings with heavy machinery must always wear these garments. Railroad construction is another field that demands reflective clothing. Here are some of the other professions that typically require hi-vis items:
- General construction workers
- Road surveyors
- Tow truck drivers
- Crossing guards
- Airport runway workers
- Tollbooth attendants
- Emergency responders
- Event security
- Shopping cart retrievers
- Garbage collectors
The commonality between all of these jobs is clear: traffic or heavy machinery is present, so staying visible to other people is essential.
The requirements may vary, but hi-vis shirts, jackets, pants, and accessories (such as helmets and gloves) are standard among these employees. Even if the law doesn’t require your industry to supply workers with hi-vis equipment, many businesses encourage or require individuals to wear it as an added safety measure. Determine whether your industry requires or encourages hi-vis clothing before picking out items for yourself and others.
Types of Hi-Vis Gear
Before you make your purchase, consider the three types of hi-vis gear set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI):
- Type O (off-road)
- Type R (roadway)
- Type P (public safety)
Off-road workers typically operate near roadways, but they’re often in less danger of being struck by vehicles. However, they must still stay visible at all times. Type R garments are for individuals working on roadways, as these workers are the most likely to be hit by traffic. But roadway employees aren’t exclusively in construction—tollbooth attendants, crossing guards, airport ground workers, and others all must wear Type R hi-vis clothing. Lastly, public safety individuals such as law enforcement, firefighters, and first responders should always don Type P hi-vis garments.
Classes of Hi-Vis Gear
There are also four classes of visibility gear that the American National Standards Institute sets:
- Class 1
- Class 2
- Class 3
- Class E
Each class refers to the amount of reflective material and the level of reflection in an article of hi-vis gear. Class 1 represents the lowest amount, Class 3 represents the highest, and Class E consists of complementary items such as pants and overalls. You can combine Class 2 gear with Class E items to create a Class 3 outfit.
Typically, employees who work in consistent environments during the day need only Class 1 or Class 2 gear—but if some workers require Class 2 gear, then everyone on the job site must also wear Class 2 gear. Class 3 items are reserved for people operating at night or for individuals who encounter many different working conditions, such as rain, fog, or snow. These occupations may include delivery drivers or roadway workers.
Understanding the types and classes of hi-vis apparel is one thing—factoring in weather conditions is a whole other ball game. Weather is unpredictable, so ensuring that you and your workers are protected from all different situations is important. If you operate in an area that consistently experiences cold or wet weather conditions, you must supply insulated or moisture-wicking garments. This is important because throwing a sweater over a reflective shirt or vest limits visibility.
Plus, workers who are comfortable tend to work more efficiently. Protecting the well-being of yourself and others is ethically important, but making sure your workers are consistently safe and comfortable is also essential to your business.
3M reflective material, the item that causes hi-vis apparel to “glow,” is also commonly used in the streetwear fashion scene. Top brands such as Nike, Jordan, ICNY, and Off-White create garments that reflect light, adding extra flair to an outfit or clothing line.
So why bring this up here? Well, just because your industry requires practical hi-vis doesn’t mean you can’t consider purchasing trendy items or customizing your gear! Creating custom hi-vis uniforms is a great way to give your business a more professional look. It can also distinguish contractors from employees and even indicate different occupations or positions. Stylish hi-vis workwear shows prospective clients that your company takes its responsibilities seriously, which can subconsciously make your services more desirable to them.
These factors to consider when you’re choosing hi-vis apparel mostly relate to safety and function. However, you should of course determine the sizes, fits, and quantity you need before purchasing any gear. If you need further help and resources for finding the right products for yourself and your business, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team here at SafetyShirtz. We have the inventory and experience to ensure you and others are properly protected from hazards—all while looking and feeling great.