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High Visibility Standards Explained - BS EN 471

Many people get confused (or are unaware) with the meaning of BS EN 417.  It is the industry standard for HiVis Clothing and here we will try and explain it in more detail.


Being struck by a moving vehicle is the second most common cause of death in the workplace today, and accounts for 17% of all fatal injuries.

It is therefore essential that any High Visibility garments issued to employees conform to all relevant performance standards (BS EN 471, European standard for High Visibility Clothing), and are worn and maintained correctly for maximum protection.


In order to comply with all UK and EU legislation, you need to ensure that the High Visibility garments you buy comply with the following :

HiVis Clothing conforming to BS EN 471:2003, Table 1, Class 2 or 3, which must be worn at all times
The colour of the background materials should normally be fluorescent Yellow from Table 2 of EN477:2003
The retro-reflective materials should comply with Table 5 of EN471:2003

Reflective material enhances you visibility in low light situations. This refelctive material returns light to a light source, such as vehicle headlights, creating a bright image that motorists are more likely to see from a distance. As a result, motorists and pedestrials have more time to react.


HiVis garment types are grouped into three classes based upon the consicuity provided, with the classes dictating the minimum quantities of background and retro-reflectieve materilas used.

CLASS 3 - Highest Protection Level of HiVis Clothing
Band of retro-reflective materilal shall not be less than 50mm wide. Minimum background material 0.80m sq. Minimum retro-reflective material 0.20m sq.

Examples of Class 3 HiVis items : HiVis Bomber Jackets; HiVis Parka Jackets; HiVis Long Sleeved Vests (Jerkins)

CLASS 2 - Intermediate Protection Level of HiVis Clothing
Band of retro-reflective materilal shall not be less than 50mm wide. Minimum background material 0.50m sq. Minimum retro-reflective material 0.13m sq.

Examples of Class 2 HiVis items : HiVis Sleeveless Vests

CLASS 1 - Lowest Protection Level of HiVis Clothing
Band of retro-reflective materilal shall not be less than 50mm wide. Minimum background material 0.14m sq. Minimum retro-reflective material 0.10m sq.

Examples of Class 1 HiVis items : HiVis Trousers

It is important to note that to conform to BS EN 471 standards items must have a Yellow, or Orange, background. HiVis items of other colours will  NOT conform to UK and EU standards for High Visibility clothing.

A revised version of EN417 was published in 2004, one of the major cahnges in this version is that horizontal reflective bands can now have an incline of +20%


Produced by the Highways Agency for all its contractors working on main or trunk roads in the UK states "All those working on or near the roads should wear
High Visibility warning clothing (Class 2 or 3) complying to BS EN 471 paragraph 4.2.3(b).

"Shall have two horizontal bands of retro-reflective material not less than 50mm apart from around the torso and bands of retro-reflective material joining the
uppermost torso band from the front to the back over each shoulder."

In addition on Motorways, or other high speed roads, full length sleeved garments should also comply with paragraph 4.2.4 'Full length sleeves'


The dirtier the HiVis garment gets, the less effective it becomes. Make sure that garments are washed regularly, or disposed of when permenatly soiled.
Do NOT allow sections to be cut off or removed - the level of protection they provide depends on the areas of fluorescent and retro-reflective materials.
Make sure that the garmant is worn fastened at all times to ensure maximum protection and reduce the risk of entanglement with moving machinery etc


All of the HiVis clothing for sale at meets the above standards, where applicable.

Please contact us if you have any unanswered questions - we'd be only to happy to help.


Written by Steve Cree at 24/05/2014

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