Helping you make sure your hi-viz is up to standard

Following the re-classification of high visibility garments under EU legislation in 2009 to category II Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), all such garments must be tested to pass the appropriate European performance standard.

A garment (note that it is the garment as a whole and NOT just components of the garment) that is pertaining to be hi-viz should be made to one of the following standards:

EN ISO 20471:2013 – For professional use

If working with or around horses and being supplied with hi-viz garments as part of your work, then they should be to this standard in order to meet health and safety legislation.

EN1150 – For leisure riders

For non-professional use, ie leisure riders.

EN13356 – Accessories

Such as detachable belts, arm and hat bands, gloves and half chaps.

What is PPE equipment and how does it affect high visibility garments?

Personal Protective Equipment is a product that offers you a certain amount of protection or is safety related. PPE is divided into categories depending on the risk factors so something like an electric kettle is Category I, whilst body protectors and riding hats are Category II. Until recently high visibility clothing was also Category I, however a decision was made in April 2009 in Brussels to re-classify hi-viz clothing as Category II which requires the manufacturer to submit their garments to a notified/approved body (such as a testing house) for “type examination” (testing to the appropriate standard). Only once this has been done can a CE mark then be placed on the product.

Why do these standards exist?

Standards are in place to guarantee you, the buyer and user, that the garments do what the manufacturer claims they will do. They ensure that clothing is reasonably durable and does not fade or suffer a loss of reflectivity after washing or a short period of use.  In the case of Hi Viz, the standards set requirements for colour and luminance to ensure that the wearer can be seen by day, whilst it sets the requirements for retro-reflective strips that will make the wearer more visible in the dark when illuminated by light.  It also sets requirements for wear and tear and requires washing instructions,( including the number of cycles through which the garment will retain its reflective performance to be given) as well as clear sizing (more than just S,M or L).

What if products are not certified?

If the garment is not certified then you could risk buying a garment expecting to be clearly visible to traffic when in fact you are not. High visibility garments work by reflecting light back towards the light source. The retro-reflective bands usually appear just as a dull silver/grey colour so the buyer or wearer cannot tell whether the garment’s reflectivity is good or not. Not only could you be taking an unnecessary risk with your own life and that of other road users, but if you were involved in a traffic accident you could find that you may have invalidated or reduced your insurance cover by contributing to the accident.

What about items for the horse?

The PPE directive only applies to garments for people, so items for the horse do not fall under the directive.

What about rider accessories?

Accessories such as detachable belts, arm and hat bands, gloves and half chaps are covered by EN13356. Compliance is an assurance that the product gives sufficient reflection at night in all weather conditions and has reasonable durability. If compliant the accessory must be permanently marked or labelled to indicate compliance, together with user information and product information similar to garments.

What if the garment doesn’t claim to be hi-viz, even if it looks like it is?

If it looks like hi-viz and you are given the impression that it acts like hi-viz then the garment should meet the relevant standard. Please note that it is the garment as a whole that should meet the standard, not just components of it.