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Arco warns against an invisible workforce

Wed 11 Nov 2020
posted by Arco Professional Safety Services

Arco warns against an invisible workforce
UK safety experts advise on keeping workers visible this winter.

Arco hi-vis

With shorter days and bad weather approaching, workers are spending more of their day working in dangerous conditions. Winter brings longer hours working in the dark, and poor weather such as mist and fog, increasing the importance of keeping workers visible. Arco wants individuals and business owners to understand the heightened risk potential and how worker safety can be compromised.

People who spend time working outdoors should be prepared to not only ensure that they are warm, but that they can be seen. Ill-equipped employees are at a highly increased risk of being victim to a workplace injury if they are not noticeable.

Every year there are over 2,500 RIDDOR incidents involving transport in the workplace and being struck by a vehicle is one of the most common causes of fatal workplace accidents. Hi-vis clothing attracts the attention of vehicle operators, gives them more time to react and reduces the risk of people being hit. It also provides workers with the confidence they need to carry out their job safely, and employers the knowledge that their workforce is protected. It is therefore essential that employers ensure workers are supplied with EN compliant and role-suitable hi-visibility clothing.

Arco advises that in some situations, a hi-vis vest may be all that’s required to keep a worker safe, however people particularly at risk may need full body hi-vis clothing. It’s important that a thorough risk assessment is carried out in all instances to assess the type and level of risks workers may face. The risks should be identified, engineered out if possible and then suitable PPE as a final preventative measure. The higher risk the environment, the more hi-vis clothing is required. Hi-vis should be suitable for the job, comfortable for the wearer and it shouldn’t interfere with other PPE. Genuine hi-vis has two features which aid discernibility: fluorescent material providing day-time visibility, and retro-reflective tape which reflects light directly back toward light sources. Whilst dark conditions seem the most natural time to wear hi-vis, it should be worn in all light conditions to ensure workers are protected.

The safety expert warns that it’s crucial to review the condition of hi-vis clothing regularly, to ensure it remains fit for purpose.

Hi-vis clothing is typically worn in tough environments, and it must be able to withstand these and maintain its effectiveness. Clothing should be kept clean and checked regularly for defects, and replaced if damaged.

The EN standard for hi-vis clothing is EN 20471, which sets the minimum standards of visual performance and durability needed for high visibility clothing worn in the workplace. The standard is based on a series of tests including colour fastness, colour measurement, dimensional stability, reflective tape testing and garment assessment, all of which affect whether hi-vis offers the highest possible level of protection (class 3), or low level protection (class 1).

Arco wants employers to understand that hi-visibility clothing is a cost-effective way to safeguard workers from paying the ultimate price.

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