High-visibility clothing, a type of personal protective equipment (PPE), is any clothing worn that has highly reflective properties or a colour that is easily discernible from any background. Yellow waistcoats worn by emergency services are a common example.
Part of the surface of the garment may have retroreflective stripes. This way they become much more visible in the dark for observers near a light source, such as the driver of a car with its headlights on. The pattern of the retroreflecting parts also helps to distinguish between objects and people. Area reflective fabric has proven to be the most effective way of outlining the body, so that drivers can distinguish a human shape at night.
For greater visibility during the daytime, very bright colours are used for the main body of the garment by means of fluorescent material.
In general, people who wear high-visibility clothing are those who need to be seen during poor lighting or weather conditions, or when working in environments where there is a lot of moving machinery.
Examples include pedestrians, workers, cyclists, motorcyclists, hunters and hikers.
The attention-gaining nature of high-visibility clothing has also led to its occasional use as a fashion statement.
Federal law in the United States requires all personnel working on a federally funded highway to wear a high-visibility vest starting on November 25, 2008. Firefighters are only excluded from this requirement while actively engaged in firefighting activities or hazardous materials situations. At all other times, high visibility clothing must be worn. In addition, paramedics, police officers not engaged in law enforcement activities (i.e. traffic stops), tow truck operators, and road workers are required by law to wear high visibility clothing.
In the UK, Health and Safety regulations state that anyone working in a low-visibility environment, or where there is a risk of not being easily seen, high-visibility clothing must be worn. An example is given below:
Application for rail workers in the UK 
Experimental use of high-visibility clothing began in 1964 on the Scottish Region. Fluorescent orange jackets, known as "fire-flies", were issued to track workers on the Pollokshields to Eglinton Street electrified section in Glasgow; they were later tried in other areas, such as Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness. Train drivers operating in these areas were asked their opinion as to the effectiveness of the jackets. Following trials, high-visibility clothing was issued to engineering and other staff working on the electrified lines of BR's London Midland Region in 1965. It was thought to be more important due to the higher speeds of the newly electrified WCML route from Euston to Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham. The first version was worn as a jerkin and was "visible at ... half a mile in normal weather conditions." In the UK, it is a requirement of Network Rail that all personnel working on or around the track wear full body high-visibility clothing (or HV gear as it is known). The rate of deaths and injuries on the rail network has been reduced considerably since the early 1970s when high-visibility clothing and the acceptance of the need for it became common. HV Clothing then was very low tech, usually just a simple yellow or orange tabbard (similar to those worn in netball).
Since then, features of HV clothing such as the EN510 quick release standard and the EN471 High Visibility standard, have improved the effectiveness and contributed to improved safety for rail workers. The specifications for High Visibility clothing that are suitable for use on railways in the United Kingdom are published by the Rail Safety and Standards Board.
High-visibility elements have been incorporated into many styles of jacket and other items. These can include:
- Wet weather coats (both breathable and non breathable)
- Over-trousers (both breathable and non breathable)
- Laptop bags
- Carry bags
- Shopping bags
- T-Shirts and Polo Shirts
- Waist coats (both with the EN510 standard and without, as well as flame retardant types)
- Body warmers
- Bomber jackets (both breathable and non breathable)
- Boilersuits (both fire retardant and non)
Many of the garments listed also come with Gore-Tex waterproof breathable fabrics.
High-visibility clothing can also be embroidered or printed with names or corporate logos.
Two shots of Crossing Guard clothing in normal light, and when a light source reflects off the hi-viz stripes.
While it seems intuitively obvious that high-visibility clothing should make its wearer easier for vehicle operators, hunters, etc., to see and avoid, there are surprisingly few studies to quantify the effectiveness of high-visibility clothing for particular classes of users.
Traffic risks to the cyclist are similar to those faced by motorcyclists (see SMIDSY), with the main differences being that bicycling speeds are typically lower, and the bicyclist wears less protective gear. Nonetheless, there seems to be even less research on the effectiveness of high-visibility clothing for the bicyclist than for the motorcyclist. However, a number of vendors market high-visibility clothing for cyclists. From a good vantage point along a road or cycleway with a sight line of 1 km or more, one can watch cyclists approaching during daylight, and see that those clad in high-visibility clothing become readily visible long before dull-clad cyclists riding next to them. Research is needed to quantify the extent to which this plainly evident conspicuity advantage might translate into fewer bike/car collisions. Recent studies have shown that the most critical distance the driver actually needs to see those wearing the gear, is at the distance of 50 meters. From 1 km away, a cyclist would be barely visible regardless of the visibility of his gear. The critical detection distance is the crucial point where a cyclist must be detected, because that is the point where most drivers will focus their attention.
A 2009 Australian study found that fluorescent vests were not a significant improvement on black clothing at night, and that retro-reflective strips were more effective when attached to knees and ankles than on a more or less static jacket. Reference: Wood, J.M. et al. 2009. Drivers' and cyclists' experiences of sharing the road: Incidents, attitudes and perceptions of visibility. Accident Analysis & Prevention 41: 772-776. doi:10.1016/j.aap.2009.03.014.
Bulgarian, Belgian, Czech, Estonian, French, Italian, Latvian, Norwegian, Austrian, Portuguese, Serbian, Slovakian, Slovenian and Spanish law demand that every vehicle be provided with a high-visibility vest with reflective material certified according to EU standards that is to be worn in emergency situations that force the driver to exit the vehicle. Contrary to common belief, the driver is not required to exit the vehicle wearing high-visibility clothing. However, the law demands that the driver wear it before any attempt to repair the vehicle.
In Germany only commercially used vehicles have to provide a vest.
Various ISO member bodies have published similar standards for high-visibility clothing to be worn as personal protective equipment.
ANSI/ISEA 107-1999 
The American National Standards Institute published a standard for high-visibility clothing in 1999. The standard defines three classes of successively more-visible garments, to protect workers exposed to successively higher levels of risk from motor vehicles and heavy equipment.
ANSI/ISEA 107-1999 is a voluntary industry consensus standard; however, Occupational Safety regulations support its implementation by employers whose employees are at risk from motor traffic or heavy equipment.
ANSI/ISEA 107-2004 
ANSI revised the standard in 2004.
ANSI/ISEA 207-2006 
In 2006, ANSI released the 207-2006, or American National Standard for High-Visibility Public Safety Vests, in response to issues raised by public safety officials with respect to the ANSI 107 vest design. Their concerns were both tactical and influenced by a need to differentiate between law enforcement/emergency personnel and the vests worn by construction workers. The changes have different requirements for fluorescent background material, specifically allowing for a shorter design that allows equipment belt access. It also includes many optional features, such as a 5-point breakaway design for easy removal, panels readily identifying the wearer as an emergency responder, and radio and badge pockets/holders.
ANSI/ISEA 107-2010 
January 8, 2010 marked the date for the new highly anticipated revision to the 107-2004 high-visibility Standard. The Standard is updated every 5 years and is now labeled ANSI/ISEA 107-2010.
The ANSI Standard specifies performance requirements for high-visibility safety apparel and headwear PPE. Performance requirements are included for color, retroreflection, and minimum areas, as well as the recommended configurations of the materials and design. The amount of background and reflective material remains unchanged for all 107 Classes. However, a class 1 or a class 2 garment must now have reflective material in the shoulder area. The objective of this change was to provide greater visibility when a worker is bending over, or at angles that could be potentially missed on a garment without "vertical" reflective material over the shoulders.
ANSI 107-2010 takes on a different approach and requires all FR (Flame Resistant) garments to fall within at least 1 of 7 ASTM or NFPA test methods. It includes a description of flame resistance criteria and intended application for the various test methods referenced. If a manufacturer wants to mark high-visibility apparel as being FR, the garment must meet one of the FR tests in the 107-2010 Standard and certify its conformance to the FR requirement. For specific test methods, a copy of the new 107-2010 Standard can be purchased directly from the ISEA.
EN 471:2003 
A European Standard for high-visibility clothing. It deals with High-Visibility Specifications.
There are three levels of protection:
Class 1 Class 1 defines the lowest visibility level e.g. High-visibility trousers with two 5 cm reflective bands around each leg. These become Class 3 when worn with a Class 3 jacket.
Class 2 The class 2 defines an intermediary visibility level. Example: vests. Two 5 cm bands of reflective around body or on one 5 cm band around body and braces to both shoulders.
Class 3 The class 3 defines the highest level of visibility. Example jacket with long sleeves, jacket and trouser suit. Two 5 cm bands of reflective tape around the body, arms and braces over both shoulders. Class 3 should be worn when working within 1.2 metres of a Highway with traffic moving in excess of 50 km/h.
The International High Visibility Clothing Association found numerous flaws with the prevailing EN471:2003 and ANSI/ISEA 107-2010 standards. Published science and theory proves that the current specifications fail to show a consistency with the coefficient of retroreflection (RA) for Entrance Angles and Observation Angles in relation to the Critical Detection Distance. More stress is focused on the need for reflective tapes than the safety and well being of the end user. The issue is yet to be resolved.
The Canadian Standard for high-visibility clothing is similar to the EN 471 and ANSI 107 standards but allows for "bright colours" to be used in flame resistant applications and has specific design requirements including requirement to have an "X" style reflective trim on the back of the garment to designate to the driver if the worker is facing away. The bright colour requirement means more fabric materils can be used under the flame resistant requirements in Canada than in the EU or the US but the other requirements are basically the same.
See also 
- Chartreuse yellow (also called neon yellow)
- Display (zoology) - high-visibility in nature
- Safety orange (also called blaze orange, hunter orange)
- Cooke, B.W.C., ed. (July 1964). "Notes and News: "Fire-fly" jackets for men on the line". Railway Magazine (Westminster: Tothill Press) 110 (759): 593.
- Cooke, B.W.C., ed. (November 1965). "Notes and News: High visibility clothing". Railway Magazine (London: Tothill Press) 111 (775): 668.
- "High Visibility Clothing". Rail Safety and Standards Board. 2008. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
- Susan Wells et al. (April 10, 2004). "Motorcycle rider conspicuity and crash related injury: case-control study". BMJ. Retrieved 2007-06-26.
- "Fluoro no dark star".
- "ANSI/ISEA 107-1999 American National Standard for High-Visibility Safety Apparel". eLCOSH. Retrieved 2007-08-26.
- "ANSI/ISEA 107-2004 MADE EASY: A Quick Reference to High-Visibility Safety Apparel". 3M. Retrieved 2007-08-26.
- "ANSI/ISEA 207-2006: American National Standard for High-Visibility Public Safety Vests". Iron Horse Safety. Retrieved 2009-02-19.
- "Council Directive 89/686/EEC of 21 December 1989 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to personal protective equipment". 1989-12-21. Retrieved 2008-03-24.
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