Maintaining The Condition Of Hi-Vis Garments

Information about the care and maintenance of hi vis garments including what is required and who's responsibility it is.

Is it the employer’s responsibility to maintain hi vis clothing?

As an employer you are bound by the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 which require many factors to be taken into account to ensure that the correct clothing is chosen for a particular task. Areas that are covered are outlined below: -

  1. Is it suitable for the risk?
    Choice of clothing should take into account ambient and artificial lighting conditions at the workplace, and the effect of conditions such as fog and snow.
    For some jobs a hi-vis waistcoat, for example, may be all that is needed, but those workers who are particularly at risk, e.g. from moving vehicles (marshallers or maintenance workers), may need full body hi vis clothing so that they are as visible as possible to the driver. Hi vis clothing should provide adequate protection both during the day and at night, as well as in adverse weather. As a rule: the darker the conditions or worksite, the greater the amount of hi vis clothing required.

    To be effective hi vis clothing should be of a colour that will allow the wearer to stand out against the ambient background found in the working environment. In practice the best colours for this purpose are likely to be day-glo, or fluorescent yellow. Where necessary the clothing should also incorporate retroreflective material to make the wearer visible when seen in headlights in poor lighting conditions or during darkness. This may require reflective strips at or below waist level on waistcoats or jackets, or strips on trousers. However, just because a garment has tapes doesn’t make it Hi-vis!

  2. Is it suitable for the job?
    People working in warehouses may find that some types of loose-fitting tabard may snag on moving machinery parts. Also, hi vis coats may be too warm in summer months, in which case, waistcoats or overalls with the appropriate hi vis qualities could be supplied. Remember: PPE must always be suitable for the work; if the way of working changes - check that the PPE is still suitable.
  3. Is it suitable for the wearer?
    Hi vis clothing should be comfortable and fit the wearer properly. It should cause the minimum of restriction in the wearer’s movement.
  4. Is it compatible with other forms of PPE?
    If two or more types of PPE are worn, they should not interfere with each other. Therefore, in the case of aircraft servicing staff for example, protective clothing for chemical spills should also provide the necessary level of conspicuity. Similarly, wet or cold weather clothing should have suitable hi vis qualities or be capable of being worn under hi vis garments.

Are there any standards which the clothing should meet?
Hi vis clothing should be manufactured to a the EN 20471 European standard for high visibility warning clothing.

How to manage hi vis clothing so clothing is replaced when it needs replacing?

This is an area that is often overlooked. Employers have duties concerning the provision and use of personal protective equipment (PPE) at work. An extract from the ,explains how the employer has a duty to Monitor and review.

  • Check regularly that PPE is used. If it isn’t, find out why not
  • Safety signs can be a useful reminder that PPE should be worn
  • Take note of any changes in equipment, materials and methods – you may need to update what you provide
  • Employees must make proper use of PPE and report its loss or destruction or any fault in it.

Employers operate often similar system for all PPE and treat workwear similar to other PPE equipment. The Hi visibility may be issued out to new starters and have a scheme where the onus is on the employee to wash and care and advise the employer when they believe their garment is in need of replacing. Alternative schemes are such that the Employer will issue new Hi-visibility clothing periodically. Both schemes may work satisfactorily in many environments, however employers should tread carefully in environments where there are higher risks of hi-visibility clothing failing through its use. This is because the employee is unlikely to have the knowhow of what standard is acceptable or not and potentially workwear which may need replacing early due to damage is not flagged up correctly. 

These risks can be helped to be mitigated by the employer working in partnership with the Professional laundry supplier to understand the specific organisation issues. Areas of relevance include the anticipated garment life which is dependent on a number of factors; the work environment, employees role, number of issues allocated and frequency of wash. The Professional laundry supplier with the use of garment tracking technology such as Radio frequency (RFID) & Barcode traceability identifying individual garments uniquely, offers the opportunity to feedback to the customer information on the life cycle of their garments, offering information of the wash processes and performance, number of washes, repair carried out and mostly importantly alert the customer of any Non-conforming garments unfit for purpose as and when sent in for laundering.   The role of the Laundry supplier will be to feedback on any patterns of misuse, low frequency of presentation for wash, to help the customer educate the staff on the need to regularly send items in for wash to help maintain the garment in good condition and repair. Giltbrook Workwear offer this information through the Giltbrook Hub, to allow the customer to benefit from easy access to the information and query the information to assist in their future PPE decision making.


What should the employer think about when considering supplying reusable hi-visibility clothing ?

  1. The Employer should carry out a risk assessment to ensure appropriate risk classification clothing is chosen suitable to the conditions of work.
  2. Hi-visibility Clothing must be properly looked after and stored when not in use, e.g. in a dry, clean locker or cupboard.
  3. Hi-vis Clothing must be cleaned regularly and maintained in good condition.
  4. The wearer should have sufficient clothing to allow time for regular washing and repair when it becomes stained or wet.
  5. Provide adequate information, instruction and training to enable employees to use HV clothing correctly. This should include an explanation of the risks, why the clothing is needed, how and when it should be worn
  6. Clear understanding within the organisation of who is responsible for maintenance of the PPE and how it is going to be operated.
  7. Supervise employees, Visitors and subcontractors to ensure that they wear the clothing correctly and whenever it is needed.


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