What is the Best Colour for Hi-Vis Workwear Uniforms?

High visibility workwear is clothing that remains visible at all times, and sometimes even in the dark. Apart from making sure that the person is visible, it also helps protect the wearer. 

Statistics say that nearly half of workplace-related fatalities are vehicle-related, so wearing a hi-vis uniform helps you stay visible, thereby preventing many accidents. 

Not all hi-vis workwear works the same however. 

It depends on your occupation and needs. Here is the rundown on how to choose the right hi-vis colour for your needs. 

 

High Vis Clothing

Best Colour for Hi-Vis Clothing

There is no straight answer to this question. 

It depends on the occupation, the time of day and also the context of the worker. 

During day time, yellow-green is most visible. 

Whereas after sunset, it is the blue-green shades that are more visible. 

However, against a green background, you are more likely to spot a red or orange colour. 

This is because we interpret colours depending on the context. 

Red and orange are colours of warning. Adding a fluorescent dye to the shades makes them more prominent but mentally they are seen as colours representing a warning. 

Moreover, In a workplace, someone with a bright orange or bright yellow vest stands out. 

After sundown, the fluorescent fabric doesn’t work as well, hence the need for reflective tapes against a contrast colour to help the wearer stand out under low light conditions.

The most crucial factor that determines visibility is the amount of light. 

To understand that,  you need to know how your eyes work. Precisely rods and cones, which are the photoreceptors in your eyes. 

Rods are the photoreceptors used during the day, while the cones provide vision even in low light conditions. 

For quick recognition, you should be able to see uniforms easily, and hi-vis clothing provides easy detection. 

Woman High Vis Clothing

Why is Hi-Vis Clothing Important? 

Hi-vis workwear is mainly used by tradies, traffic managers, construction people, and labourers etc, where being highly visible at all times can make all the difference between life and death when on a job site.  

They use the fluorescent and reflective properties of the clothing to make the wearer noticeable at all times. 

Different Colours of Hi-Vis Clothing

Hi-vis clothing can be of different colours, however, according to the Australian standards, the only colours used in hi-vis clothing can be: 

  • Orange-red
  • Yellow
  • Red
  • Orange

The application, however, differs from industry to industry.

Different Types of Hi-Vis clothing

To ensure high visibility, it is essential to choose the right hi-vis colours depending on the surrounding area.

This is because the background provides the right contrast needed to achieve visibility. For example, if everything around the worksite is yellow, wearing green hi-vis workwear will be much less effective.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of hi-vis clothing:

Fluorescent Hi-vis Clothing

This type of clothing is not fluorescent on its own and is dyed. 

The clothing is coloured using a fluorescent dye which appears to “glow” when it interacts with light. 

Hence, this doesn’t work when there is not much light, particularly after sundown. 

Reflective Hi-vis Clothing 

The reflective clothing is achieved by using a reflective tape and is typically found on vests or overalls. 

Moreover, it reflects even small amounts of light which is why it’s is primarily seen on traffic workers and those who work the graveyard shift or in low-light conditions. 

Conclusion

For optimal visibility, it depends on the time of the day, the occupation and also the context or environment of the worker. 

By combining fluorescent, and reflective hi-vis clothing, worked can significantly improve their visibility and overall safety.