We’re now into the cycling season and I’m sure hi-vis is at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
Despite popular belief there are variations in the definition of what constitutes ‘High visibility.’ Logically, one would think that if there were one group of people that required high visibility then it would be cyclists.
While there are a large number of manufacturers that produce hi-vis wear for cyclists the number of cyclists that choose to wear them is not as many as you may think. As with any activity where a choice is available to those taking part, a great many cyclists do not like the look of hi-vis clothing.
Although according to Rule 59 of The Highway Code (D.o.T. 1/11/2015) cyclists should wear
So while hi-vis wear is not (technically) mandatory it is advised to be used.
One manufacturer has even developed a system where the reflective strips on the jacket are almost unnoticeable until a strong light is shone onto them.
At first glance it would be hard to imagine how a black jacket could fall under the banner of ‘reflective.’ The company has developed a reflective material that in ‘normal’ lighting conditions is barely noticeable. A fact that makes many cyclists, including this writer extremely happy.
From the individual’s point of view there is a certain stigma connected to the hi-vis clothing and the ‘usual’ wearer.
While the logic of hi-vis wear is easy to understand, indeed it is a logical garment to wear, the stereotypical wearer is perceived as being old fashioned and somewhat miserable.
In a great many cases this perception is about as wrong as it is possible to be. The problem arises because that state is how touring cyclists used to be. Twenty years ago, as the cycle trade began its first comeback, many new riders made it clear when buying their new ride that they did not want to be mistaken for one of those ‘Old Farts.’ So the dislike of hi-vis cycle wear began.
With the improvement of LED lighting technology combined with the advances in battery manufacture and USB charging it could be argued that hi-vis wear is no longer such an important piece of equipment for the modern day cyclist.
And yet, as seen in the extract from the Highway Code above, hi-vis apparel is still recommended for all cyclists. As for me, my backpack has Scotchlite panels and the array of lights fitted to my helmet and bike are bright enough to let everyone know I’m there.
Although the lights on my wheels are hypnotic…Cycling, General, hi-vis
When people that do not use hi-vis are asked what they know on the subject then answers like, “It’s just for people that work on site” or “Isn’t it just so people see the bin man?” tend to become fairly regular answers.
It would probably surprise them to learn about the rigorous testing and the materials go through and the legal requirements that individual garments have to pass in order to meet current industry standards.
If you really wanted to create confusion then the question of whether they knew there was a difference between summer and winter garments, excluding waterproofs, would possibly result in the statement, “Well I don’t need it so who cares?”
People tend to forget that there are men and women out working in all conditions where hi-vis clothing is a legal requirement of their job. In the UK, winter begins on the last Sunday in October and does not officially end until the last Sunday in March. But even that time frame doesn’t take into account the shortening days as summer comes to a close, or even take into account days where visibility is low because of adverse weather conditions.
In winter hi-vis work wear also needs to provide the wearer with more than just the ability to be easily noticed. In many cases being waterproof is an expected feature, living in Britain even some of the summer-wear is usually waterproof, so having a warm lining or thermal layer can be a primary concern.
Then the actual need of the wearer needs to be considered. Providing lightweight cotton trousers and vest would be ludicrous if the user is working on a rail track in the middle of winter.
A simple, yet with hindsight obvious solution is to ask the teams that will be using the PPE what they need and supply the correct garments as required. Similarly there would be little point in providing a fully lined winter suit to a building inspector when they may spend more time inside a building than out.
Another issue that should be identified is how easy the garments are to clean. If they require specialist cleaning then they are not going to be suitable for use in an environment where there is a risk of becoming covered in dirt every day,
Teams working alongside busy roads are exposed to rapid climate changes and have the disadvantage of a constant stream of traffic expelling exhaust fumes as they pass by.
A simple example of how rapidly an item can become discoloured is the simple hi-vis vest worn by a cyclist. After one week commuting as little as twenty miles per week a hi-vis vest is more dirt than colour. So imagine how quickly a roadside workers clothing will deteriorate.
Winter work wear needs to be easy to clean while providing sufficient protection from the elements, otherwise a day at work would some become a long dark period of discomfort with the risk of severe injury.General, hi-vis, Winter
Falls that occur while working at heights are still among the biggest causes of major injuries and fatalities. Some of the common cases include falls through fragile surfaces (such as roofs) and ladders. Thousands of workers suffer mild to major injuries from falls related to working at heights. Unfortunately, loss of life has also become a common occurrence. If you are the type of person who works at height or know someone who does, the need to ensure safety is guaranteed.
There are many ways through which safety can be assured while working at heights. They range from proper planning and inspection of the job site to the wearing of appropriate and properly functioning personal protective equipment. One of the most recommended types of PPE is the full body harness. Unfortunately, a lot of construction workers or people who work at heights don’t usually see the importance of wearing a full body harness. The importance of doing so only occurs to them after they have suffered a fall – and are lucky enough to live and narrate their story.
A safety harness is a crucial component of the personal fall arrest systems. It plays the important role of keeping users suspended upright in case of a fall. It also supports them as they await rescue. The full body safety harness is highly recommended in fall restraint systems that prevent employees from reaching points where falls are probable. The use of body belts as a safety harness is discouraged most of the time. This is mainly because the fall forces are usually concentrated on the abdomen. On the other hand, a full body harness distributes these forces throughout the body, and this has the advantage of minimising the chances of injuries by significant margins.
While having a safety is a magnificent idea, it will only be useful if it’s worn correctly. Use the following tips to ensure proper use of your safety harness.
It is not very often that fires occur on-site but they can happen. In some jobs the risk of fire is so great that it is important to wear flame, or even fire retardant clothing.
But if both types of clothing are designed to protect the wearer from fire then surely they are pretty much the same thing?
Well, no they are actually very different materials.
If an item is classified as being ‘Flame Resistant’ then it has been produced from materials that are non-flammable. These materials have flame resistance chemically built in to their structure. Fabrics using this type of material are not usually made from completely flame proof material, they need to be wearable after all, but although they will eventually start to burn they will only do so very slowly and are liable to be self-extinguishing.
Any fabric that has been classified as ‘Flame Retardant’ will have been treated in a chemical process in order to make it slow burning and even self-extinguishing if exposed to open flame.
In terms of clothing, it is more likely that the wearer will have a product that is flame retardant as they are simpler to manufacture and far less expensive. They are usually far more comfortable to wear next to the skin than a fabric that is flame resistant.
Many garments of the flame retardant type are made form a combination of materials. More often than not they will be a combination of chemically treated polyester and cotton that allow the wearer to remain reasonably comfortable throughout the working day.
Sometimes it is wise to have a garment that is anti-static as well as flame retardant as the clothing itself helps to reduce the risk of unexpected fires. It may sound unlikely but if the air/accelerant mix is just right then a simple static charge has the potential to cause an explosion.
Better to be safe wearing the right clothing than running the risk of getting burnt.General, Industry
Working outdoors brings a plethora of dangers, some you may not have even considered. Consider the people who work near roadways. You’ll notice cars, vans and lorries whizzing past them busy with the day to day. Then there are the impatient drives who like to dodge from lane to lane and usually try pushing the speed limit to get where they’re going two minutes faster. In all its brilliance, the UK has some great whether conditions. These usually range from dull and drizzly to cloudy and overcast. Put the two together and you’ve got the potential for a dangerous situation.
Hi-Vis jackets can make the difference between being seen and not seen. You may take it for granted that people can see you but that’s not always the case. A driver may have failing eye sight or may just happen to get be dazzled by oncoming headlights at the wrong moment. Without hi-vis clothing, the wrong moment is all it takes.
If you do work in a construction environment then it’s usually mandatory you have PPE equipment such as a hi-vis jacket or vest, safety boots and a hard hat. You may not necessarily understand the reason these are a requirement but consider this – operators of heavy equipment tend to have a limited amount of visibility from the driving seat. If you are not easily visible, they may not see you when moving from one work area to another. Couple this with the noise of various pieces of equipment working and you may not see or hear them coming either.
Depending on the type of work you are doing, you’ll need different safety equipment. For example, if you are working at height the you’ll need fall arrest equipment or if you are working by water you’ll need floatation equipment. No matter what type of work you’re doing, we can’t stress enough the importance of hi-vis clothing. View our range in our online shop.General