Guide to high-visibility clothing standards- Goto Workwear Ltd July 01, 2018 10:41

Guide To High Visibility Standards

 This guide may become outdated and is not legal advice - use at your own risk


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  High visibility products


Guide to high-visibility clothing standards

High visibility clothing standards

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) refers to any clothing or equipment that protects a wearer’s body from workplace injury and infection. These range from larger protective clothing items, such as jackets, boiler suits and trousers, to footwear, helmets, gloves and visors.

High visibility clothing is a type of PPE that’s highly reflective, making it easily discernible in darkness and other low light conditions. However, high visibility garments, particularly helmets, should also be used in daylight to increase the visibility of the wearer when much of their body is obscured from view.

To provide the highest level of protection and comfort, there are several specifications to which your high visibility garments should adhere.

EN 20471 (High visibility)

EN 20471 is the European standard for high visibility clothing and deals specifically with specifications of high visibility clothing. When purchasing high visibility workwear, it’s important to remember that only yellow and orange vests are fully compliant with the EN 20471 standard. Reflective tape on high visibility garments must also be at least 50mm wide.

Garments that comply with EN 20471 are divided into 3 levels of protection, depending on the visibility level they provide.

Class 1

Class 1 defines the lowest visibility level and garments with this rating should only be used in minimal risk areas (such as off road).

An example of a Class 1 garment would be a pair of high visibility trousers with two 5cm reflective bands around each leg. However, these can become Class 3 when worn with a Class 3 jacket.

Technical specifications:

  • Minimum background material: 0.14m2
  • Minimum retro-reflective material: 0.10m2

Class 2

The Class 2 defines garments with an intermediary visibility level, with a typical example including vests. It requires that clothing has two 5cm bands of reflective tape around the body or one 5cm band around the body and braces to both shoulders.

Technical specifications:

  • Minimum background material: 0.50m2
  • Minimum retro-reflective material: 0.13m2

Class 3


The Class 3 defines the highest level of visibility. An example would be a jacket with long sleeves or a jacket and trouser suit. It requires two 5cm bands of reflective tape around the body and arms, as well as braces over both shoulders.

If your employees are working near high speed roads, then Class 3 garments must be used.

Technical specifications:

  • Minimum background material: 0.80m2
  • Minimum retro-reflective material: 0.20m2

 Ani Static high vis

Arc & welding protection

EN 61482 (Arc protection)

This standard informs the wearer if the garment protects against electric arc flash.

An arc flash occurs when there is a short circuit and can potentially lead to serious injuries such as burns, blindness and damage to hearing.

EN 61482 is divided into the following classes:

  • Class 1: aims to provide protection against electric arc 4kA and arc duration of 500ms
  • Class 2: aims to provide protection against electric arc 7kA and arc duration of 500ms

Please note that it is important to choose garments that provide the minimum level of protection required against electric arc flash.

ISO 11611 (Welding protection)

ISO 11611 is used to specify the basic safety requirements for garments used when welding. Although this standard applies to most types of protective workwear, it is particularly important when considering items that cover the hands or feet. However, it does not cover requirements for hand protection.

Protective clothing with this standard is intended to protect the wearer against spatter (particularly small splashes of molten metal), short contact time with flame and radiant heat from the arc.

These garments also minimise the possibility of electrical shock by short-term and accidental contact with live electrical conductors at voltages of up to approximately 100 V dc in standard welding conditions.

The standard is split in two classes:

  • Class 1: Offers protection against less hazardous welding techniques and situations, causing lower levels of spatter and radiant heat.
  • Class 2: Offers protection against more hazardous welding techniques and situations, causing higher levels of spatter and radiant heat.

Electrostatic & flame protection

EN 1149 (Electrostatic resistant)

EN 1149 is the harmonised European standard for protective clothing to protect against the danger caused by static electricity. This standard is essential for workwear that is to be used in areas where there is a high risk of explosion.

The EN 1149 standard consists of the following:

  • EN1149-1:test methods for the measurement of surface resistance
  • EN1149-2:test methods for the measurement of the electrical resistance through a material
  • EN1149-3:test methods for the measurement of charge decay
  • EN1149-4:garment test method (this standard is currently under development)
  • EN1149-5:performance requirements

While garments that adhere to this standard work to prevent sparks, and therefore fire and explosion, it is important to note that they won’t provide protection from electric shocks. EN 1149 standard clothing must also be worn in conjunction with flame retardant clothing in order to be accepted.

EN 11612 (Flame retardant)

This is the new standard for heat and flame protective clothing, replacing EN 531. Although workwear with the EN 531 standard is still valid and safe for use, EN 11612 ensures that all minor features on the garment, such as zips and the stitching, are tested for their conformity to this standard.

Garments should be constructed from flexible materials, allowing for increased ease of movement, and protect all areas of the wearer’s body, excluding the hands.

The new standard is divided into different categories, where the letters represent which requirements the garment fulfils. Each category is subdivided into different levels depending on the level of protection.

The levels are, as follows:

  • A1, A2- Requirements for limited flame spread (A1: Surface ignition; A2: edge ignition)
  • B(1-3) - Protection against convective heat and open flames
  • C(1-4) - Protection against radiant heat
  • D(1-3) - Protection against molten aluminium splash
  • E (1-3)- Protection against molten iron splash
  • F(1-3) - Protection against contact heat

Entanglement, rain and rail

EN510 (Anti entanglement)

This standard specifies the properties of protective clothing that minimise the risk of its entanglement or drawing-in by moving parts when the wearer is working.

EN 343 (Protection against rain)

EN 343 is the harmonised European standard for garments worn in adverse weather conditions.

It specifies the characteristics of protective clothing against the influence of foul weather, wind, and cool air above -5oc. However, the two main properties are resistance to water penetration and water vapour.

The standard features two performance parameters:

Y = Breathable properties (3 levels)

This ensures that garments direct perspiration away from the skin. This helps to regulate heat and increase wearer comfort when working.

To measure, EN 343 uses (m2. Pa/W), a water vapour resistance value.

X = “Waterproofness” (3 levels)

This refers to resistance to water penetration and can be expressed in kPa or a millimetre water column.

GO/RT 3279 Railway Group Standard

The Railway Group Standard sets out the minimum specification for high visibility warning clothing in the rail industry. It mandates the minimum requirements for high visibility clothing to ensure that people are conspicuous when on the line side/trackside or on/near the line.

Railway high vis