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The History of Hi-Vis Clothing

High visibility clothing has become an important part of working safely in the UK, with many different types of occupations wearing hi-visibility clothing to improve safety. From lollipop men and women operating the school crossing, to engineers working on motorway construction, being seen by wearing fluorescent and reflective colours saves many lives each year.

The emergency services are perhaps most associated with hi-vis clothing, as well as other high-risk occupations but you also find hi-vis on recreational cyclists, runners and more recently as an unlikely addition to fashion!


Where did hi-vis originate?

The story behind the invention of hi-visibility is an interesting one. In the 1930s, an American called Bob Switzer had his dreams of becoming a doctor ruined when he suffered an industrial accident. Whilst he was recuperating from his injury, he came up with the idea of fluorescent paint and then trialled it on clothing using the fabric of his wife’s wedding dress!


Hi-Vis use in the UK

It wasn’t until 1964 that hi-visibility made its way over the UK. The first instance of its use was with railway workers in Glasgow. As safety regulations were introduced, hi-vis and other PPE became very important items in protecting the safety of workers. The 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act and the later 1992 Personal Protective Equipment at Work regulations set out the requirements to use PPE including hi-vis workwear where necessary.

As well as being integral in keeping workers safe when they are at danger of being hit by vehicles or other dangers, hi-vis helps to keep road users safe. In the 1980s, hi-vis started to be worn by motorcyclists after a US study identified that two-thirds of all motorcycle accidents involving cars were due to the car driver not having clear visibility of the motorcycle. Due to the size of motorbikes compared to cars, they are more difficult to spot, especially if wearing dark clothing around dusk, just before lights are switched on to help them to stand out at night.


A new era – improving cyclist safety

The same dangers go for cyclists when sharing the road with cars and lorries. With the Government now on a mission to get Britain using their bikes more to lose weight, the safety of cyclists will be a huge factor in this. There have been discussions around investing in safer routes for cyclists and even amending the Highway Code to give cyclists more protection. Having good visibility of cyclists will be vital to the plans, so installing lights on bikes and wearing hi-vis clothing is likely to be a critical element of getting Britain on their bikes.

Whether you need hi-vis workwear for wearing on a construction site, or you want to stay safe using the roads on your bike, has a huge range of attractively designed clothing to make sure you stand out and stay as visible as possible, wherever you are.


Shop hi-vis clothing

Written by Serenyellow at 24/08/2020

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