HiVis Workwear 101: Keep It On, Keep It Closed, Keep It Safe

worker with steel cables

Somebody with the right idea. Check out that fully zipped up vest!

Your workplace can have the most comprehensive safety rules out there, but they don’t mean much if people aren’t following them. When it comes to PPE, and hi vis workwear in particular, safety compliance requires everybody to be wearing their gear correctly. Otherwise, you’re not getting all of the safety benefits that these garments are tested and designed to provide. 

How can you make sure that you’re wearing your hi vis safety work clothes correctly? We’re going to talk about three common PPE errors that you can spot in a lot of workplaces, as well as how to correct them. 

Know How Your Gear Works

The company that manufactured your high visibility clothing designed it to give the wearer specific safety benefits. Improved wearer visibility is made possible through the use of fluorescent colors and reflective tape is the primary benefit of most hi vis gear, but other work safety gear also includes features like breakaway design and flame resistant construction.

Here’s the catch, though: Many of these protective properties, including the all-important ANSI 107 visibility properties, don’t function as intended when you’re not wearing the garment correctly. Hi vis garments have been rigorously tested to perform under certain conditions. If you change the way they’re worn, you change those conditions. 

So, how do you tell if you’re wearing your gear right? Hi vis garments almost always come with instructions from the manufacturer for wearing them correctly. When you get your hi vis gear, look for instructions packaged with it or consult the safety documents on the manufacturer’s website. However, there are some common themes when it comes to how people wear safety gear incorrectly. Let’s take a quick look at three of those. 

winter hi vis man on phone

This guy needs to zip, button, or fasten his vest.

Safety Mistake #1: Taking Your Hi Vis Gear Off

What good is a hi vis safety vest if you’re not wearing it? It won’t do you any good sitting in your truck, on the back of your chair or anywhere else, so get it out of those places and onto your body. Often, this happens by accident when someone dressed in layers removes their hi vis top layer. There’s nothing wrong with dressing in layers –– in fact, it’s highly recommended for cold days –– but your new top layer should still meet the required high visibility standards for your job. 

Safety Mistake #2: Unbuttoning Your Hi Vis Gear

It might seem nitpicky to worry about whether your hi vis gear is fully zipped or buttoned, but it’s important. When a manufacturer designs and tests hi vis gear, they do so with the intention that people will wear the garments fully buttoned or zipped up. It’s especially important for the testing processes that certify a garment’s compliance with ANSI 107 standards. 

Unbuttoning or unzipping is a common occurrence when people are adjusting their gear to get better airflow, to cool off or to make their garment fit better over another layer. If you’re shaking your head and thinking about how you’ve definitely done that before, so have a lot of people. The answer? Choosing a hi vis clothing design that meets your needs in terms of airflow and size — HiVis Supply has hundreds to choose from.

man with large drill

This guy also needs to get his vest zipped up if he’s in an area around heavy machinery, and it wouldn’t hurt to throw it in the wash, either.

Safety Mistake #3: Covering Up Your Hi Vis Gear

Many people wear other non hi vis clothing on the job in addition to their hi vis gear. That’s all good, as long as your outfit still meets the required ANSI standards for your job. The problem comes from non hi vis garments that may be covering up key parts of your hi vis gear. The solution here is simple: If you’re packing an extra top layer to add in case of colder weather, make sure that piece of gear meets the same visibility standards. It’s easy to find great hi vis outerwear for layering up — our selection of hi vis hoodies and sweatshirts is the perfect place to start. 

5 Great Reflective Vests for Comfort, Fit and Function

Looking for reflective vests with maximum comfort and versatility? HiVis Supply has you covered:

  1. Kishigo 1584 Class 2 Premium Brilliant Series Ultimate Reflective Safety Vest
  2. Kishigo S5021/S5022 HiVis Class 2 Women's Black Series Heavy Duty Surveyors Safety Vest
  3. Kishigo 1573/1574 Brilliant Series Class 3 Ultimate Reflective Vest
  4. Radians SV59B Class 2 Heavy Duty Black Bottom Surveyors Vest
  5. GSS Safety 1511 Onyx Series Class 2 HiVis Ripstop Surveyors Vest
Discover Our Selection of Hi Vis Work Vests

surveying land

Somebody else who’s getting it right! 

Compliance on the job keeps everybody safe, which is why it’s so crucial to choose a hi vis workwear solution that works for you. To learn more about compliance as it relates to hi vis gear, read our guide to the seven types of PPE and our primer on the ANSI 107 standard

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