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How High Visibility Clothing Works

Both during the day and at night ...


High visibility clothing, also known as hi-vis, is any item of clothing which stands out from the ambient background due to its reflectivity and easily discernible from any normal background at a distance ...

High visibility clothing should help you be seen both day and night!

High visibility clothing should help you be seen both day and night!

copyright: carnegie42 / 123rf stock photo (licensee)

It is particularly used by emergency services and for railway and road workers, airport workers, or other places where workers are near moving equipment or vehicles, or in darkened areas. It can even help to reduce the accident rate for cyclists and bikers too with far fewer accidents recorded for those wearing hi-vis against those who didn't.

"Hi-vis clothing uses a combination of flourescent materials and retro-reflectors and is designed to reflect light directly back to the source!"

This means that a vehicle approaching someone wearing hi-vis can see them at a much greater distance than they could for an item of clothing of similar colour, that's not made of high visibility materials. The European standard says around 1/2 mile in normal daylight and adds that retro-reflectors should be included in the clothing for visibilty at night.

Historically, orange jackets were tested with railway workers in Scotland in the early 1960s and were so successful, they were rolled out to the rest of the rail network throughout that decade.

It was only a matter of time before other public sector bodies and commercial industries saw the benefits of wearing high visibility clothing, and now it has become a standard part of personal protective equipment under UK health and safety law.

If you're wondering, ISO 20471 (or EN ISO 20471:2013 to give it its full name), covers the standards for hi-vis clothing in the UK. Performance requirements are included for colour and retro-reflection as well as for the minimum areas and for the placement of the materials in PPE.

There are 3 categories for PPE under which hi-vis clothing is included:

  • Category I – Protective equipment of simple design protecting against minimal risks where the user himself can assess the level of protection.

  • Category II – Neither simple nor complex design protecting against intermediate risks.

  • Category III – Protective equipment of complex design protecting the wearer against mortal danger or serious and irreversible injuries where the user himself cannot identify the risks in sufficient time.

Category II and III products are typically examined by an approved body and conform with several different harmonizing standards around the world.

The thing to remember when choosing hi-vis gear is this: is it suitable for the job? And remember, if your way of working changes, ensure your hi-vis kit still conforms with health and safety standards.

"Always go for quality over price!"

Good workwear will last you up to five times as long as normal streetwear will, and always conforms to the health and safety standards for your particular job.

Rugged & Tough stocks workwear from a number of leading manufacturers and each of them has high visibility clothing in their range. We know what kit meets the standards and what gear is suitable for which job in whatever weather.

From Blaklader, Carhartt and Tranemo to Jobman, Orn and U-Power, we'll always recommend the right workwear for the right job. And remember, we offer an in-house branding service so if you just want to kit yourself out or your entire team, then we can put your logo on anything you buy from us.

Seeland Hawker Shell Jacket-Pro Green-L

£134.99 inc VAT

Seeland Marsh Jacket Shaded Olive 46"

£178.99 inc VAT

Seeland Hawker Shell Jacket-Pro Green-XL

£134.99 inc VAT

Visit us in-store just south of the Hockliffe lights on the A5 Watling Street, call us on 01525 211488 or take a look at high-quality workwear gear at our website. We look forward to helping you.

Until next time ...



Always check that cheap hi-vis is certified properly and shows the CE mark. Fashionable hi-vis clothing is not always certified and if you were to have an accident, then your clothing may be checked to see if it met standards.


For the sake of saving a few pennies, keep yourself safe!

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More about Rugged & Tough ...

We stock the very best mens work and country clothing and kit. We use and wear the clothing we sell. We pride ourselves on our advice and support. We sell offline in-store and online Free UK delivery and returns. ''.... if it's not rugged & tough, we just won't stock it, in the store or online!''


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