Lighting the way
04 December 2017
During the winter months when shorter days mean reduced visibility the dependence on high visibility workwear to identify employees is increased hugely, writes The British Safety Industry Federation (BSIF) general manager Frank Angear
High visibility clothing is a key part of the workforce PPE and millions of pounds is spent on it every year within the UK.
All PPE must be correctly tested and certified to meet the appropriate European standard, this includes all high visibility clothing. If it meets the standard, then it is effective for the job it was designed to do, and users of the garment are protected to the appropriate level that the product was designed for. However, there has been a huge increase in fake and substandard PPE and in particular high visibility garments being sold within the UK. This causes a massive problem because it is threatening the safety and in some cases the lives of people who think they have taken the necessary precautions to protect themselves with high visibility clothing only for them to actually not be properly protected.
A number of items are available that claim CE approvals but in reality, they have not been appropriately certified. Even worse, some items are in fact counterfeits of existing products. In our experience these products just do not perform as they should, putting lives at risk. There have been court cases brought against several high street retailers and fines handed out for the sale of substandard high visibility clothing. It is imperative that when you buy a high visibility item you should check that it is authentic and up to the standards required.
To provide the highest level of protection and comfort, there are a number of specifications to which your high visibility garments should adhere.
EN 20471 (High visibility)
EN 20471 is the European standard for high visibility clothing and deals specifically with specifications of high visibility clothing. When purchasing high visibility workwear, it’s important to remember that only yellow and orange vests are fully compliant with the EN 20471 standard. Reflective tape on high visibility garments must also be at least 50mm wide.
To help with sourcing authentic and appropriate PPE, BSIF run the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme, members of the scheme are companies who manufacture and distribute PPE within the UK. They declare that they are committed to selling only certified authentic PPE to the market place. They are independently audited to make sure the products they sell, including high visibility garments, are up to standard and offer the correct protection levels to end users. By using a Registered Safety Supplier (visit www.bsif.co.uk/rsss), end users can assure they are sourcing ‘up to the task’ equipment, something that every employee has to have.