Why it’s important to wear Hi-Vis on site
High visibility clothing is one of the simplest parts of your personal protective equipment (PPE) but it’s also one of the most effective because many accidents are caused by someone not being conspicuous enough to avoid. If you can be seen in poor visibility or darkness, or on a hectic worksite, then forklift drivers, for example, can see you. You can also be readily seen and recovered if something happens to you.
It’s the law
Every Australian construction site must, by law, have a high-vis policy and it’s the employer or business owner who must pay for hi-vis clothing, as well as any other PPE. It’s also illegal to refuse to wear it.
It’s not just for construction sites
Other jobs and roles need hi-vis clothing as well. Traffic managers also need it because they’re working in a fast-moving, potentially hazardous environment and the sooner drivers can see that there’s a person in their field of view, the more time they have to avoid them.
Being inconspicuous can put you in danger
One of the reasons cyclists and motorcyclists are (sadly) involved in serious and fatal accidents so often is because their leathers or cycling gear make them blend in with some backgrounds, especially if it’s getting dark. Thankfully, more and more bikers are wearing hi-vis tabards so hopefully, we’ll see these accidents becoming less and less frequent. If you cycle or ride a motorbike to work then you need to be visible.
Hi-vis clothing works
The human eye is much more receptive to bright yellows and lime greens and we tend to pick out anything with these colours significantly earlier than we do anything else.
While motorcyclists can wear thin vests over their leathers, many workers can have access to hi-vis shirts, sweatshirts, trousers and even fleeces. This means there’s no need to worry about being cold if you’re working at night or somewhere dark or misty.
There’s no excuse for not wearing some form of hi-vis clothing at work as you can always find something warm or cool enough to keep you comfortable and safe.
Personal protective equipment such as high visibility clothing should be utilized by workers in high risk industries such as the construction industry. Personal Protective Equipment is clothing or equipment designed to control risks to health and safety in the workplace. As an employee in the construction industry you have a legal obligation to adhere to your employer’s health and safety requirements, including use of PPE if instructed by your employer however it should be kept in mind that PPE are not the most effective means of hazard management.
High-visibility safety clothing includes vests, bibs or overalls that workers can wear to improve how well other people “see” them, in other words improves their visibility.
Most often, high-visibility clothing is worn to alert drivers and other vehicle operators of a worker’s presence, especially in low light and dark conditions such as those in which road construction workers often have to work in. High-visibility headwear can also be worn to increase the visibility of the wearer in situations where part or all of the wearer’s body could be obscured.
High-visibility safety clothing is needed especially for workers who work in low light and poor visibility, especially if you are working around moving vehicles (cars, trucks or other machinery traveling under their own power – e.g. forklifts, backhoes, etc) such as road construction workers. High-visibility PPE allow you to be seen by the drivers of those vehicles sooner and more readily. This fact increases your safety at work.
High-visibility clothing is effective because the human eye responds best to large, contrasting, bright or moving objects. Worker visibility is enhanced by high colour contrast between clothing and the work environment against which it is seen.
Once the hazards on a site have been identified and the risks assessed, it will be determined if the worker needs high visibility gear. If it is determined that they do, they need to be provided with this PPE by the employer (at no charge to the worker).
Part of employer’s responsibility includes providing workers with the PPE necessary for them to remain safe as well as provide them with the training necessary to use the PPE correctly.
Employees have the responsibility to utilize PPE in the manner they have been trained and failure to do so can result in disciplinary action. This worker PPE training should include:
-When to use the high-visibility apparel,
-Fitting instructions, including how to put on and take off the apparel, if relevant,
-The importance of using the apparel only in the specified way,
-Limitations of use,
-How to store and maintain the apparel correctly,
-How to check for wear and tear, and
-How to clean or decontaminate the apparel correctly, with complete washing and/or dry cleaning instructions.