When to replace hi vis clothing

When to replace hi vis clothing

clock-circular-outline Posted 12 Jul 2022

Hi vis workwear: you understand the importance of investing in it, and your employees know to wear it, but do you think enough about when you should replace it? Mark Fishwick explains how to tell when ‘high-visibility’ clothing is no longer so visible…

When should you replace hi vis clothing?
This is a question we get asked – but perhaps not as much as we should.

Unfortunately, while the need for hi vis workwear is well-known, many people don’t think about when their hi vis clothing might need replacing. There can be an assumption that hi vis is always hi vis. Unfortunately, it isn’t.

How long does hi vis clothing last?
With proper care and standard use, hi vis clothing will typically last around six months before needing to be replaced, but this could be a lot less depending on the work environment and job role in which it is worn.

In order to ensure it remains effective, hi vis clothing should always be inspected before use.

Our tip: Encourage your employees to build a quick inspection of their hi vis into their routine before starting their shift, by providing them with a checklist of what to look out for. If you’re working with temporary staff and hi vis is reallocated each day, ensure warehouse managers check each item before handing it back out.


When should you replace hi vis clothing: A checklist

Warning signs to look out for include:

  • Fading – Is the fluorescent fabric faded, discoloured or dull in its appearance?
  • Damage – Is any part of the hi vis damaged or worn? Are the reflective strips intact?
  • Dirt – Is it no longer possible to clean the item to a high standard?
  • Visibility – Is it still clearly visible and reflective from a distance?

If there are any concerns about an item’s effectiveness, it is time to replace it.

Our tip: If ongoing issues with damaged hi vis vests are a problem, consider if switching to a hi vis polo shirt is a viable option. As well as being smarter, these fitted items of hi vis workwear have less risk of getting damaged.


Maximising the lifespan of hi vis clothing
Following a few simple rules will help keep hi vis clothing looking smart and performing effectively. These are:

  • Store it out of direct sunlight – Sunlight will make the colour fade quicker, reducing its effectiveness
  • Keep it clean – Wiping off dirt at the end of each day will prevent a build up that may be more difficult to remove and could damage the fabric. Always check the label before washing – not all hi vis is suitable for a machine wash, and some items will detail the maximum number of times a garment can be washed before its reflective properties stop being effective
  • Respect its importance – Screwing up hi vis items and squashing them into small spaces puts additional stress on the garment’s fibres, which can lead them to break down faster.


Hi vis clothing: what to look for
Whether your employees are required to wear conforming hi vis due to working around moving vehicles, or just choose to in order to enhance their safety at work, its important to know what makes a true hi vis jacket, hi vis trouser or hi vis vest.


The first thing to mention is that true hi vis clothing is normally either yellow or orange in colour. Other colours of workwear purporting to be ‘hi vis’ may stand out in their own way, but will not conform to the required standard for the purposes of compliance with safety regulations.

Reflective material
Genuine, conforming hi vis clothing must have a minimum surface area of fluorescent fabric and reflective material, including reflective strips on a hi vis vest or hi vis jacket that pass over the shoulders. It is important to ensure no sections are cut off or removed.

Our tip: Look for clothing that conforms to EN ISO 20471 for peace of mind that your employees are well protected.


By Mark Fishwick

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