Workplace Solutions High-visibility Personal protective equipment Protective clothing

The importance of comfortable hi-vis clothing

How important is properly fitted high-visibility clothing for safety on the job?

Photo: 360 USA

Responding is Andrew Scherz, marketing director for 360 USA, Garden Grove, CA.

The purpose of high-visibility clothing is to reduce the risk of incidents and improve safety overall. Workers in certain industries who are in close contact with moving machinery are often at risk of being involved in an incident. Working in low light, in inclement weather or at night are other examples of conditions in which hi-vis clothing can help avoid injury. Hi-vis clothing is proven to significantly improve overall worker safety in these circumstances, but the real safety challenge is to ensure hi-vis clothing both fits properly and meets necessary ANSI reflective safety requirements.

People come in many shapes and sizes, which causes a wide range of sizing needs for safety gear. Managing this provides unique challenges when trying to outfit crews with properly fitting hi-vis clothing.

When working in confined spaces or high-risk environments, loose or poor-fitting clothing can snag and potentially trip up and injure workers. Also, discomfort caused by tight or baggy reflective gear can impair performance and range of motion, putting workers at risk of injury.

In addition, a one-size-fits-all approach can be problematic. Workers may try to compensate for poor fit by wearing other clothes that are too tight, bulky or not appropriate for climate conditions. The result can be a breach of safety standards and a heightened risk of injury.

When investing in hi-vis clothing for a work crew, comfort should be a priority. The right material selection is critical because hi-vis shirts and jackets are frequently worn as a base, middle or outer layer. Do your workers need a raincoat, parka or fall arrest harness access? Does their clothing need to be flame resistant or offer other protective features beyond visibility?

These combinations and sizing easily begin to multiply the complexity of managing hi-vis clothing needs. Workplace turnover can also keep the ordering cycle constant.

This is why an ANSI-rated reflective harness is sometimes the best option to address environment, function and fit safety concerns. A harness can fit over rain- and fire-resistant workwear and is adjustable to accommodate many different sizes. This simple solution can address numerous safety and comfort concerns that are commonly associated with hi-vis clothing.

Remember, in any workplace, the safety of employees should be the top priority. It always pays to invest in the appropriate hi-vis clothing and opt for high-quality reflective workwear for better safety and peace of mind.

Editor's note: This article represents the independent views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

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