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Your guide to hi-vis workwear and UK regulations

Hi-vis workwear can be a minefield. Our guide will help you understand what you need and the considerations you should take into account. Including hi-vis regulations in the UK.

Do you know what hi-vis workwear you or your team should wear in different working environments?

If you work in certain settings, you have a legal obligation to provide it for employees. But with lots of different kinds of hi-vis garments available in various colours, it can be hard to know where to start.

That’s why, together with our partner, Workwear Giant, we’ve created this guide to help you confidently choose the hi-vis workwear you need.

With our tips on hand, you’ll have no trouble abiding by hi-vis standards in the UK.

What is hi-vis clothing?

High-visibility clothing, a.k.a hi-vis, is specialised clothing that:

  • Makes individuals more conspicuous in various environments
  • Uses fluorescent colours and reflective materials to enhance visibility
  • Ensures wearers are easily discernible from their surroundings

This type of clothing is especially important in situations where low light or adverse weather conditions may compromise visibility.

Simply put, it reduces the risk of accidents and enhances safety across different professions and work activities.

Men's and women's hi vis workwear

Why invest in hi-vis workwear?

The main purpose of hi-vis workwear is to:

  • Make you visible
  • Keep you safe

In potentially dangerous environments where machinery is operated, hi-vis clothing is proven to help prevent accidents and fatalities. Under hi-vis clothing regulations, you’ll need to wear it if you’re working in environments combining machinery with ambient or artificial lights.

As an employer, if your employees are exposed to significant safety risks, you’re legally obliged to provide hi-vis gear. This must be done free of charge for your employees.

At the end of the day, everyone deserves to be safe at work. Hi-visibility clothing is an important part of this.

What are your responsibilities when it comes to hi-vis workwear?

If you have employees, you’re not just responsible for providing them with hi-vis clothing if they need it.

You’ll also have to do the following:

  • Maintain it in a clean state and in good working order
  • Check it before you give it to employees
  • Provide storage facilities for when it’s not being used
  • Give your employees information and guidance on how to use it correctly
  • Supervise your employees to make sure they’re wearing it correctly and when they need it

Save on your next hi-vis order

Checkatrade tradespeople get 50% off workwear with Workwear Giant!

Find out more

Guidance to choosing the right hi-vis clothing

Wondering what type of hi-vis clothing you need to invest in?

There are lots of factors you’ll need to bear in mind when making the right decision:

1. The risk

  • What’s the lighting like?
  • What are the weather conditions (is there snow or fog, for instance)?
  • Is it daytime or nighttime?

You’ll need to consider these factors when assessing the level of risk you’re dealing with. As a general rule, the darker the conditions you’re working in, the more hi-visibility clothing you’ll need to wear.

  • For some jobs, a hi-vis waistcoat might be all you need
  • But if workers are at particularly high risk (such as from moving vehicles or equipment) they might need full-body clothing

A combination of Hi-vis workwear jackets together with hi-vis trousers will help make them as visible as possible.

2. The job

Be sure to think about what your employees need from the clothing.

  • What does the job involve?
  • What will the working conditions be like?

For instance, you might find that a loose-fitting hi-vis tabard could snag on moving machinery parts. But if it’s summer, you might decide that a hi-vis jacket would be too warm.

Remember, PPE for tradespeople always has to be suitable for the work being undertaken.

If the work changes, you’ll need to check that the PPE is still suitable for the task at hand.

3. The wearer

Who will be wearing the hi-vis clothing?

It’s important that this sort of gear is comfortable, fits the person wearing it properly, and doesn’t restrict their movement.

This is especially true when looking specifically for men’s workwear and women’s workwear separately.

So, consider investing in a range of sizes to suit different body types and genders.

4. Compatibility with other forms of PPE

Will the workwear be worn with other PPE?

If you’re going to wear more than one type of PPE, they mustn’t hinder one another. That’s why it’s often useful for your hi-vis clothing to double up as another kind of PPE.

It could mean:

You might also want to consider investing in waterproof hi-vis workwear if you’re going to be working in wet weather. That way, you won’t be hindering the performance of your hi-vis clothing by wearing separate waterproof clothing over the top.

Save money with Checkatrade

All Checkatrade members get great discounts through our partner brands!

Learn more

Hi-vis regulations in the UK

Does the workwear you’re considering meet the new British Standard of hi-vis clothing regulations?

Hi-visibility garments should always be manufactured to recognised standards in the UK. Currently, the new British Standard is BS EN 471.

Remember, all workwear that conforms to UK standards will be marked with two numbers:

  • The first will indicate how conspicuous the workwear is (Class 3 is the best and Class 1 is the lowest).
  • The second will indicate the workwear’s retroflexion performance (Class 2 is more visible than Class 1 when seen in headlights in darkness)

Below is the recommended usage of the different UK hi-vis standards classes:

  • You should wear Class 3 hi-vis clothing if there’s a high risk that you’ll be hit by a moving vehicle
  • Class 2 is recommended if there’s a medium risk
  • Class 1 is usually worn by workers providing roadside assistance, volunteers or delivery drivers, where risks are lower

Classes of hi viz

A good starting point for finding clothing that meets UK hi-vis regulations is to ensure you’re buying from a reputable brand. For example, like Caterpillar or Workwear Giant.

What colour hi-vis should you wear?

If you’re wondering what colour hi-vis you should wear, you should consider what colour you’ll be seen best in. Hi-vis garments can come in a range of colours, including black and navy.

However, the most common (and those that tend to conform to UK hi-vis regulations) are yellow and orange.

Yellow versus orange hi-vis workwear

Both yellow and orange hi-vis workwear can conform to UK hi-vis clothing regulations. So, how do you choose between them?

Well, it depends on which you’re likely to be better seen in, given the conditions of the job.

If you’re carrying out work outdoors in green environments, fluorescent orange is likely to be much more visible. As it won’t blend in with the environment. Hence why rail workers wear orange hi-vis workwear.

On the other hand, yellow hi-vis workwear is more commonly used indoors. Yellow is a brighter colour, so it can be seen better in low-level light.

Two-tone hi-vis clothing

This sort of workwear is formed of two colours – a fluorescent colour and another colour (which can be fluorescent or not).

Two-tone workwear helps people tell different job roles apart or tells apart people who work in different locations. For example, different teams might be assigned different colours of hi-vis.

However, it can also be useful to help protect against dirt, especially if the lower half of the workwear is a darker colour.

Just bear in mind that this might affect the class of the workwear. If there’s less fluorescent fabric on show, you’re likely to be less visible.

Two-tone hi vis workwear

Personalised hi-vis workwear

Getting hi-vis workwear with your logo on is a great way to increase brand awareness.

The more that somebody sees your branding, the more likely they are to think of your company. Particularly when they need a service that you provide.

Custom workwear can also help to give your whole team a sense of consistency and unity. And it can even enhance trust.

In fact, studies have shown that customers feel more comfortable approaching individuals who are clearly part of a company.

Embroidered hi-vis workwear versus printed hi-vis workwear

If you’ve decided to get your hi-vis clothing branded, you’ll need to choose between printed or embroidered workwear.

They each have their pros and cons. However, here are the key differences:

Printed hi-vis workwear

  • Costs less
  • Better for complex or fiddly designs
  • Can be utilised on more garments, eg. hard hats

Embroidered hi-vis workwear

  • Longer-lasting
  • Can withstand multiple hot washes
  • Looks more professional

Save on your next hi-vis order

Checkatrade tradespeople get 50% off workwear with Workwear Giant!

Find out more

Sewer clearance

Enjoy discounts on your workwear with Checkatrade

With those final points covered, you should now have all the information necessary to pick up some brand-new hi-visibility workwear. And there’s no better place to buy it than through our Checkatrade partners.

Simply join up as a member to get immediate access to our discounts on workwear, as well as cheaper training. You can find the latest offers and discounts in our Member’s Area. So just log in to see what’s there now!

Get in touch today to learn more about signing up and our flexible membership options.

Hi-vis workwear FAQs

How often should you replace hi-vis clothing?

Hi-vis clothing typically lasts around six months. However, it can last longer if it’s not worn daily. Or it could last for less time if it’s frequently worn in extreme conditions.

Remember that employers are responsible for cleaning their employees’ hi-vis clothing and keeping it in good working order.

Save money with Checkatrade

All Checkatrade members get great discounts through our partner brands!

Learn more

Content disclaimer: This content has been created for general information purposes and should not be taken as formal advice. Read our full disclaimer here.

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