Updated: Dec 20, 2021
We often get asked about the best clothing and personal protective equipment
for using on site. To be honest we tend to eliminate or isolate the hazard to avoid
PPE use. However clothing is one area we can not often remove the work site,
especially if traffic is involved. So what clothing should you be buying?
Hazard and Risks
Like any potential health and safety issue we need to first identify the hazard
and risk to establish how and what control we use.
For example: Our hazard is working on a public road during the day with high
levels of traffic. Our risk is people working on the side of the road could be hit by
a passing vehicle and injured or killed. One of our solutions is clothing that will
make our workers visible, and reduce the risk of being hit by a vehicle.
Hi-Viz Clothing Standards
We have decided that hi-viz clothing is the best control. Now like all PPE there is
a standard to meet. Hi-Viz clothing falls under AS/NZS standards.
When NZ products meet AS/NZ Standards the product must have the AS/NZS marking
to tell consumers that the product they are buying has undergone testing and
is suitable for use. You will find the certified product mark on the clothing tag.
Your clothing supplier is likely to mention this in the product description
as well. If not ask before purchasing. If the item does not meet standards
and an incident occurs you could be seen as not performing your due
Some Standards include:
AS/NZS 4602.1:2011 Garments for High Risk Applications
AS/NZS 1906.4:2010 High Visibility Materials for Safety Garments
TTMC-W Code of Practice - Temporary Traffic Management Control -Wet
Material Compliance to 4601.4.2010
Research these standards or speak with a consultant to identify the
requirements you need to meet. Your PPE sales rep may also be able to
help with this.
Key Design Requirements
Minimum of unbroken fluorescent material on any high-visibility garment intended for day or day/night use must not be less than 0.2sqm on the front of the garment and 0.2sqm on the back of the garment.
The fluorescent colour is required to meet AS/NZS 1906.4:2010
The reflective tape is required to meet 50mm width measurement and one of five taping configurations.
Smaller-sized garments may need to extend the area of fluorescent fabric on the sleeves if there is not enough large unbroken are on the body.
Underarm venting is permitted, using a suitable colour square of lightweight fabric no more than 10cm x 10cm.
Clothing labels must have the standard correctly printed and clear garment care instructions.
Company logos can be applied to front and back of garment as long as the fluorescent area on the smallest-sized garment still meets 0.2sqm on the front and back torso. Logos cannot go over any reflective tape.
There are 3 classes when it comes to hi-visibility clothing.
Day Only (Class D) - Suitable only in daytime use, or workplaces with good lighting. Made from fluorescent or other high visibility materials.
Day / Night (Class D/N) - Suitable for day and night use, 5 different compliant reflective tape configurations. Combine fluorescent or other high visibility materials.
Night Only (Class N) - Designed for night use only, with no background material specified. Reflective take must meet certain measurements and configuration.
Fading and Wear
Clothing needs to be kept in good shape to remain compliant to AS/NZ
Standards. The reflective tape must be intact and the colours need to remain bright
and unfaded. Shirts that are stained or dirty can hinder the effectiveness of the high visibility and may not reach compliancy.
Many brands include a “Fade Tag’ which will help recognise when a shirt is past its ‘use-by-date’. There are distance tests you can complete on a shirt, however these can often be seen as an ineffective testing method if performed outside measured conditions.
It is ideal to replace clothing once a year or every 6 months for highly used clothing.