High-vis clothing has become a staple of many industries where safety and visibility is paramount. Whether it’s a warehouse where heavy-duty machinery is involved or conducting construction work out on the roads, high visibility clothing ensures that all of those around you are able to keep you in their sights so any potential accidents are avoided. Not all high-vis clothing is the same however, as there are different kinds and colours of high-vis clothing that are suitable for different situations and environments. Understanding which colours are most suitable for your workplace or environment is crucial as it can maximize your visibility and conspicuity.

How many colours are there?

All high-vis clothing must comply with the regulations set out in EN471, the European standards for high-viz clothing. Within EN471 there are three classes – Class 1 is minimal protection for private roads, Class 2 is intermediate level for class A and B roads and Class 3 is the highest level of visibility for motorways, dual-carriageways and airports. As long as the colour that you pick is in accordance with these regulations, it will be acceptable to wear in the workplace. However, you will need to ensure that you have the correct class of high-vis clothing according to the nature of your work.

Choosing for the seasons

If you aren’t restricted to choosing a particular colour for your work organisation, you may find that certain colours are suitable to certain times of the day and year. For example, during the winter period visibility can be a lot more diminished compared to other times of year, while the presence of snow makes colours like pink and orange stand out more compared to yellow. Alternatively, during the spring when many different colours are seen in wildlife, a colour such as pink which does not often appear naturally in nature may be most suitable to increase your conspicuity.

Creating the correct blends

It is not just all about putting on high-vis clothing as it is necessary to create the correct overall uniform which will maximize your visibility. This means that the colour of the clothing you wear together with your high-vis wear is also very important. It is important to create a conspicuous contrast between colours so that your high-vis clothing stands out sufficiently. Colours like black can help establish a strong contrast, while you want to avoid wearing colours that are likely to occur within your environment such as green or grey.

What colours represent

Although there is not a standardised code for what each colour means, intuitively most people read similar things when they see certain colours. For example, orange is common as a warning or caution colour, while yellow high-vis wear is the most common colour you will see that is worn by everyone from first response medics to construction workers. It can help to establish a system signifying what each colour actually means at your organisation, helping your employees to understand each other’s roles and duties.