High visibility (hi vis) clothing is designed to ensure that workers are seen even in low-light conditions. This is especially important around moving vehicles and machinery.
The CSA Standard Z96-15 outlines what the necessary requirements are for Canadian workers and although Canadian hi vis clothing can be worn in the United States, clothing that only complies with the United States ANSI 107-2015 Standards do not meet Canadian Standards.
This is the striping that appears on the clothing that is designed to return light back in the same direction as the light source. This allows light from the headlights of a vehicle to illuminate the striping to alert the driver of the presence of worker(s). To meet CSA Standards, there must be continuous striping around the waist and two bands up over the shoulders, with an X on the back to indicate whether the worker is facing away from you.
This refers to the background material and how brightly coloured it is. Typically colours are either a yellow/green or orange colour but some red vests can meet these requirements. There are specific tolerances that are determined for each trim level that is outlined here.
There are three classes of hi viz clothing which offer increasing protection as the levels increase:
Class 1 is essentially retroreflective stripes on clothing such as a harness or sash which can be worn over any type of clothing. This offers the lowest level of visibility. This type of hi vis clothing is meant for workers performing jobs where workers easily stand out against the background and limited, lower speed traffic.
Class 2 is often seen on workers who are wearing a vest, jacket or bib pants of a fluorescent background colour and with retroreflective material. This provides partial covering of body with high visibility. Typically, these garments are seen on workers in construction, roadways and utility industries, especially when they are near free-flowing traffic or when the background to a worksite is complex.
Class 3 garments provide fluorescent background material that covers the body as well as having the retroreflective striping around the waist, over the shoulder, around each arm and around each leg. A garment in the class 2 category can be made to be a class 3 garment as long as the body is covered. These garments can be coveralls, a long coat, or two garments together like a jacket and bib pants. These types of clothing are popular in the mining industry or where there is low light conditions and extra visibility is required.
The final piece to the visibility of the garments is the level of light the retroreflective striping is able to reflect back. Level 2 is the highest amount of reflective and is visible from a great distance in the dark. Level 1 is a high level of reflective and is visible from a moderate distance. Level FR is a special retroreflective only permissible if the garment is designed to protect against flash fires (flame resistant) or electrical arc flashes.
Levitt-Safety offers high visibility clothing from the leading manufacturers including Viking, Pioneer and Big Bill.