Hi-vis: What you need to know
What is Hi-Vis?
Hi-Vis is a form of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) designed to minimise the risk of personal injury by making the wearers visible.
The New Zealand legislation has standards around the criteria that hi-vis needs to meet, the types of hi-vis available, and when hi-vis should be worn.
As a business owner, you must manage the risks associated with your workplace activities and in doing so follow a process to control those risks. If you cannot eliminate a risk, you must implement measures to reduce the level of risk, provide training to workers, and provide PPE – which can include hi-vis.
Protective clothing is one of many control measures used to mitigate risk, however, it is the ‘last line of defense’, and all other reasonably practicable control measures should be in place first before relying on protective clothing. It is up to the PCBU if hi-vis clothing is a control that will be implemented on-site. However, we do recommend that it should always be worn around moving vehicles, plant and machinery.
Types of Hi-Vis
There are many types of hi-vis clothing available in New Zealand, and it is important to understand the different types of hi-vis, what is appropriate for your workplace, and ensure that you supply hi-vis that meets the standards. The only two hi-vis colours that are acceptable in NZ are yellow and red-orange.Red is only allowed if it is in the orange spectrum. Otherwise, it cannot be considered a hi-vis colour, because it is not easily visible for some people with a specific type of colour-blindness.
- Class D – (Daytime use) made from fluorescent or other high visibility materials, are designed for daytime use. They are intended only for use in workplaces where lighting levels are good, and no work is done outside of daylight hours.
- Class N – (Nighttime use) designed and only suitable for night use, with no background material specified. The reflective tape must meet certain measurements and configurations.
- Class D/N – (Day and nighttime use) These garments combine fluorescent or other high-visibility background materials with strips of reflective tape, making them suitable for day and night use, or for work areas where there are low light levels.
It is important that the correct hi-vis is selected and used correctly. Your workers should know:
- When using hi-vis is required
- How to wear it correctly, and that the zippers/velcro need to be done up securely
- Be of a suitable fit and not interfere with normal movement
- Be compatible with any other PPE requirements
- Know when to request a replacement due to damage/wear and tear
Hi-vis should be maintained to ensure that it remains effective, over time the materials can fade which will affect the performance of the tape and fabric. It should be regularly checked for wear and tear, fading, and ensure that there are no additional fabrics, logos, or pockets impacting the functionality of the hi-vis in accordance with the standards AS/NZS 4602 and AS/NZS 1906.4.