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What Safety Standards Apply to Hi Vis Workwear?

In Australia, hi vis workwear must conform to Australian standards. This isn’t just to ensure the quality of your garment (although that, too!) but to keep you safe. Poor quality printed hi vis shirts can fade quickly and fail to make you clearly visible onsite. When it comes to hi vis, it never pays to go with a cheap knock-off version.

So, what are the Australian standards that apply to your hi vis workwear?

1. Australian Standard AS/NZS 1906.4.2010 – relates to the garment colours used for high visibility in daylight and lowlight.

2. Australian Standard AS/NZS 4602.1.2011 – relates to the structure of the garment (cut, material and weft).

3. Australian Standard AS/NZS 4399:2017 – relates to UV radiation protection.

All three standards must be met to make your hi vis workwear compliant, high-quality and worth the investment. Let’s look at each standard in more detail.

Choosing Colours for High Visibility

Australian Standards AS/NZS 1906.4.2010 explains how workwear garments achieve high visibility warning characteristics suitable for professional use, e.g., for road traffic control and construction around moving vehicles. This includes guidelines for how hi vis garments should be dyed to achieve peak performance in daytime conditions.

It should be noted that colour levels (chromaticity) differ according to the kind of material used, so what works for one fabric is unlikely to work for another. Manufacturers are obligated to take care at the dyeing phase to ensure the correct colour chromaticity of each garment. Importantly, only yellow and orange provide the level of chromaticity required for daytime hi vis. This doesn’t mean that every part of a hi vis garment is one colour but that your hi vis workwear shirts and outerwear will be predominantly yellow, or orange, enhanced with reflective tape and/or contrasting colours.

You can learn more about AS/NZS 1906.4.2010 here.

Determining Garment Quality for Hi Vis

The AS/NZS 4602.1:2011 outlines the strict design requirements of hi vis workwear, namely, the specification and quality of the materials used in the garment. Manufacturers of hi vis workwear must be compliant with these standards; however, it is advisable that industry employers and employees understand the guidelines as well.

The AS/NZS 4602.1:2011 ensures that garment sizing and integrity is controlled, as to provide adequate safety characteristics, such as being non-flammable, durable, and appropriately designed for visibility.

For example, mesh inserts cannot interfere with reflective bands or reduce the garment’s overall colour chromaticity. For this reason, his vis shirts must have over 0.2m of unbroken fluoro fabric tape on both the front and the back of the garment. The fluoro tape must not be broken with non-fluoro fabric and must encircle the body. For this reason, side panels up to the armpit level are permitted. The RF tape has to be at least 50mm (NZ) or at least 25 mm wide (Australia) and conform to placement guidelines.

Finally, to keep everyone safe on site, hi vi clothing must also be professionally tested and evaluated on an ongoing basis to ensure compliance.

You can learn more about AS/NZS 4602.1:2011 here.

UV Radiation Protection and Hi Vis Clothing

This standard ensures that workwear garments provide adequate UV protection, something that is especially important when working outside or under strong ultraviolet lights. The UPF rating of a garment is used to indicate how well the material blocks ultraviolet radiation from the sun, and as such, guide the buyer toward the best option for their work conditions.

UV light may not sound like a serious hazard, as compared to moving vehicles and heavy machinery, but UV radiation can cause skin cancer – one of the most common causes of premature death in both Australian and New Zealand. With this in mind, your employees also need to protect their skin that isn’t covered by their hi vis workwear with good sunscreen, hats and working in the shade wherever possible.

You can learn more about AS/NZS 4399:2017 here.

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