HVSA or high-visibility safety apparel is clothing that workers who need to be seen by other people wear to make their presence known in poor visibility or low light conditions. HVSA is especially important when working around vehicles, such as cars and trucks, or machinery like backhoes, forklifts, etc. The human eye responds best to bright, contrasting and moving objects, so wearing colours that contrast the clothing and the working environment can significantly improve worker safety. There are various different types of HVSA apparel in terms of colours and materials.
You can find HVSA made of reflective and fluorescent materials. Fluorescent materials take UV light from sunlight and send it back to the viewer as visible light. That being said, clothes made from fluorescent materials are only effective where there is natural sunlight. In other words, fluorescent HVSA is best worn at dawn, dusk and in cloudy weather when daytime visibility is low. Additionally, this material is brighter than same-coloured non-fluorescent materials. Reflective materials return any light back to the light’s source. Orange reflective safety clothing is the most frequent material-colour combination, and it basically reflects the lights of say, incoming vehicles, right back to them. While orange reflective safety clothing can also work in daylight, it doesn’t provide a distinct difference between them and the surrounding environment.
Besides colours and materials, you need to consider the size, fit, design and maintenance of the HVSA. Large bright garments are obviously more visible than smaller ones, and the employees wearing the HVSA should wear 360-degree body coverage so that they’re visible from all viewing directions. Stripes of colours which contrast with the background material and stripes on the legs and arms can provide visual indicators about the motion of the employee wearing the garment. Requirements such as thermal performance, flame and water resistance, comfort, tear-away properties, durability, flexibility and material breathability may all matter – depending on the job.
For best performance and increased safety, the garments should be fitted to the employee’s specific needs. That being said, the bulk of clothing that’s worn under the HVSA clothing should also be considered, as the HVSA clothing should fit properly on the body and stay in place when working. Additionally, the HVSA clothing should be worn so that no other equipment and clothing covers the high-visibility colours and materials.
Lastly, it’s important for the HVSA to be properly cleaned and maintained. If it gets dirty or contaminated, the reflective materials will provide less visibility. Moreover, garments that show signs of soiling, contamination and wear and tear should be replaced immediately, otherwise, they won’t provide the acceptable visibility levels.