Understanding High Visibility Clothing Standards - VELTUFF® DK

Why do I need hi-vis clothing?

Hi-vis workwear is a mandatory requirement for all industries where work occurs near traffic, cranes & other motorised vehicles. It is also essential for any poor light conditions (for example working at night, or in a darker environment such as a warehouse). The main role of hi-vis clothing is to reduce the risk of accidents occurring in these potentially dangerous environments by making the wearer stand out from the background. The wearer should be clearly visible from all angles and the design of the reflective strips and fluorescent material should account for this.

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What are the current regulations?

EN ISO 20471:2013 is the international standard for the safety requirements and test methods of hi-vis workwear, and is applicable to any high-risk situation. It is specifically used to asses “high visibility clothing which is capable of visually signalling the user's presence” and assesses the suitability and durability of retro-reflective materials.

Certificates are valid for a total of 5 years, which ensures that all hi-vis garments continue to meet the required standards and any update made to the international standards.

What is assessed for the certification?

There are 3 key components that are used to assess whether a garment meets EN ISO 20471 safety requirements. These are:

  1. The fluorescent material

This boosts visibility during daylight hours and can also increase visibility at night.

  1. The reflective strips

These are designed to enhance visibility during the darker hours of the day. Reflective strips require a light source to work and create retro-reflection. They are essential for those working at night.

  1. The contrast material

Some hi-vis clothing features dark-coloured parts that are less sensitive to dirt than the fluorescent material and reflective strips. The areas covered with the contrast fabric are generally where dirt is more likely to build up.

In order for a garment to be certified, it needs to have a base colour that meets the required level of fluorescence, a minimum area of reflectivity and the correct placement of this reflective tape. Physical properties including tensile strength, thermal resistance and dimensional stability are also covered by the standard. These requirements ensure that all hi-vis garments are suitable for the intended working conditions.

What are the different classifications of EN ISO 20471?

Certification is split into 3 classes, with class 1 offering the lowest level of protection, class 2 being an intermediate level and class 3 offering the highest level. All garments should be labelled with the approved EN ISO 20471 icon and the appropriate class number. You can see an example of how this looks below:

VELTUFF® - EN ISO 20471 Badge

Certification is based on the surface area of both the fluorescent material and the reflective tape. There are minimum requirements for each as per the table below:


Class 1

Class 2

Class 3

Reflective Tape

0.10 sqm

0.13 sqm

0.20 sqm

Fluorescent Material

0.14 sqm

0.50 sqm

0.80 sqm


Class 3 certification can be achieved in 2 ways:

  1. By wearing an individual garment rated as class 3.
  2. By wearing 2 or more certified products that make up class 3 based on the total area of fluorescent and reflective material

A risk assessment of the conditions and risks for a particular worker should be used to determine the suitable class required for the role.

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What is EN471?

EN471 is the old classification standard for high-visibility clothing that preceded EN ISO 20471 before it came into force in 2013.

When EN ISO 20471 replaced EN471 several improvements were made to the standard. The newer standard makes a stronger distinction between the different types of risk situations, which hi-vis users can then apply to their own situation to determine the level of protection they require. Crucially, the requirements now depend on which part of the body the garment is covering, rather than the type of garment as in EN471. There are five options: torso only; torso and arms; legs; torso and legs; and torso, arms and legs.

The requirements of class 3 also increased with the change of certification. Class 3 garments today must cover the torso and include either full-length sleeves or trousers. If a sleeve obscures part of a reflective band on the torso of a garment, a band must be added to the sleeves. For hi-vis garments with short sleeves, if the sleeve obscures a torso band of retro-reflective tape, the standard now dictates that there must also be a band of retro-reflective tape about the sleeves.

As certificates are valid for 5 years, if you are still using garments certified to EN471 they should be replaced immediately with hi-vis workwear certified to the new standard.

How should I look after my hi-vis workwear?

You need to consider that testing and certification for EN ISO 20471 is completed before the use of the garments. Over time the garments will become dirty, be frequently washed and become compromised. Therefore you will need to replace garments relatively frequently to maintain compliance.

Most hi-vis garments have a maximum life of 25 washes (some have more and this should be stated on the label). This means that over-cleaning can lead you to lose compliance. However, that also needs to be balanced with not washing regularly enough, as stains and dirt will also reduce the item’s visibility.

Can I add a logo to my hi-vis workwear?

Although branded or personalised hi-vis is a great way of promoting and distinguishing your company on site, employers should take care when adding logos to hi-vis workwear.

Because of the requirements for the minimum area of reflective and fluorescent material (table above), the certification of your garments may be impacted if you personalise in any way. Any area of background or retro-reflective material that is covered by branding will subsequently be excluded from the calculation of the required minimum area.

Where possible, use reflective logo transfers, or try to place branding on the contrast material so visibility is not impacted and hi-vis safety standards are maintained.

Also be aware that adjusting garments, for example shortening the length of trousers, might also reduce the area of fluorescent material and affect the classification of the garment.

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