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What are they and do you comply?

Anyone in the Construction & Safety industry is expected and required to wear high visibility gear clothing and to remain visible to moving vehicles or machinery. However, it is important to understand the legislative requirements and standards to ensure your staff are wearing high visibility gear that is compliant. Just because an item of clothing is bright, it doesn’t always mean they are compliantly dressed and safe from harm!

CAUTION: Watch out for non legitimate Hi Vis!

While all hi visibility gear may look similar, there are some ‘dodgy’ brands of garments available in Australia that are non-compliant and unsafe to use. Manufacturing clothing to meet or surpass the AS/NZS standards is not always cheap, so some companies are willing to compromise on safety in order to maximise profits. As a reseller and manufacturer of high visibility clothing, we refuse to stock ‘cheap and nasty’ brands that are not compliant, so you can be sure our range is safe!

This blog will run over the standards that relate to workwear and clothing, what they mean and how you can ensure the clothing you fit your team out with is compliant.

The Standards Explained

There are a couple of main standards regarding high visibility garments:

AS/NZ 4602.1: 2011 High visibility safety garments– Garments for high risk applications
This standard specifies the design of the garments used by employees who are exposed to hazards from moving vehicles, equipment or other high-risk situations. There are different classes within the Standard for different times of day:

C6HVNC HiVis Short Sleeve Polo Shirt D –These garments are designed for use in the daytime only. They provide the wearer with high visibility under daylight conditions but are generally ineffective in providing visibility in darker environments. A typical example of a Class D compliant garment is a yellow/navy polo without tape. To meet this standard the garment must:

  • Have an approved colour of hi visibility material that encircles the entire upper torso.
  • The colours specified in the standard are Orange-red, Red, Yellow, Orange and Yellow (restricted).
  • The fluorescent fabric should cover at least 0.4m2 of the upper torso.Logos or text printed onto the garments cannot be included in the 0.4m2.
  • Generally, a logo that is no larger than 10cm x 10cm shouldn’t affect the compliance of the garment.

Class N – These garments are designed to provide high visibility in the dark when viewed under retroreflected light, such as vehicle headlights.

The AS/NZ 1906.4: 2010 standard discussed in the next dot point specifies which types of reflective material are compliant and the minimum number of washes they remain complaint for. To meet night compliance requirements the tape must be a minimum of 50mm wide, and is commonly in a Hoop, X back or H pattern. The colour of background material used on the garment is not specified in the Standard. An example of a Class N compliant garment could be a black security jacket with reflective tape.

Class D/N –These garments meet both the day and night requirements we’ve outlined above. An example of a D/N compliant garment is a hi vis yellow polo with reflective tape.

AS/NZ 1906.4: 2010 Retroreflective materials and devices for road traffic control purposes – High visibility materials for safety garments. (plus Amendment 1; 2014)
We’ve already mentioned this standard, but it specifies the photometric, colorimetric and physical properties for the various high visibility materials. It categorizes materials into three classes:

Class F – Fluorescent fabric for Day Use Only (i.e. hi vis yellows, oranges etc.)
Class R – Reflective fabric for Night Use Only (i.e. 3M reflective tape). It is important to understand the impact of washing Class R materials. The washing process slowly disintegrates the reflective properties of the material. Most reflective tapes used in Australia only remain compliant for about 30 washes.
Class RF – Both Fluorescent and Reflective fabric for Day/Night Use (i.e. the yellow reflective tape used on VicRoad’s clothing)
There is an additional classification of ‘W’ for wet compliance, which is normally only relevant for rain-wear garments.

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