CHOICE membership

Warning Regarding Burns From Hi-Viz Clothing

An article regarding the risks of burns from wearing hi-viz clothing with reflective strips in sunlight.

There is obviously no need to use clothing with reflective strips at daytime, and if workers are going to be working at daytime and nighttime, then 2 sets of hi-viz clothes or a hi-viz vest with relective strips should solve the problem.

2 Likes

With the number of people getting around in bright yellow/orange “hi-viz” gear, I propose we make black the new hi-viz, so that you really stand out! :wink:

2 Likes

The problem is @Fred123, there is a dearth of phonebooths into which people can duck to do quick clothing changes. (It worked for Superman.)

Therefore, they would need to facilities to get changed. Double the uniform cost for the emoployers. Two sets of clothes to wash for every day.

Not likely. :smile:

4 Likes

Velcro removable reflective strips?

4 Likes

Reading the article, I gather that the reflective strip heats up and am guessing it then conducts the heat to the skin causing the burns, rather than ‘retro reflectivity’.

Obviously, it would prevent the problem if there were no reflective strips on hi-vis clothing worn in sunlight.

I have seen reflective strips that go over the shoulders, cross over at the front and back, and clip together as a belt. No clothing, just the reflective thing. These could be put on over the non-reflectivised hi-vis as and when required.

6 Likes

I spent years on road construction and husband on heavy plant. Never had a problem, but did know some who suffered from sweat irritation under the reflective stripes. Both our employers kitted us out with the highest safety level clothing (ie if I was in the office I still had to wear my night rated hi-viz). Standards changed and my husband’s employer (trying to get by on the minimum) was forever updating his shirts, until finally biting the bullet and issuing him with full mine spec night Hi-Viz for everyday wear.

My first thought was - did it meet the Aust Standards? To save money his employer gave him a roll of “3M Scotchlite ™ Reflective Material” to sew on his existing shirt - I still have some (what a job!!). He hated the reflective tape - at night he said all he could see was his tapes reflected back in the cab window. I spent more time in the sunlight than plant operators and never had a problem - Western Qld with relentless sun and temps in the 40s. Start at 6, knock off at 6, in winter that covered both day & night.

6 Likes

Every big company has differing internal requirements for protective clothing, including style of stripes and colour schemes. Some differ by site, while others have national standards. For contractors it is even more variable.

The HiVis reflective striping on cotton with full length sleeves and trousers has often been supplied as suitable for all circumstances. IE summer, winter, day or night. That saves on extra employer costs if they were to provide more than one style.

Some will suggest the one solution suits all is a poor compromise. I agree. Outdoor daytime work, mid summer inland Aust etc, light and breathable is the way to go. The stripes block the cloth from breathing, and do collect heat while blocking cooling. For those over the shoulder designed stripes, there is also a noticeable reflection onto the face and neck, of indeterminate radiation.

Personal observation is that as a minimum the striping can become too hot to touch from the effects of the sun. The stripes also cause additional sweating and hot spots on the skin. Adding a layer underneath may be a poor solution for a hot environment. Although there is also the type of material used with the striping to consider. It is typically not an open light weave but heavy cotton drill, which may also be a poor choice in hot outdoor environments.

3 Likes

On the few jobs on industrial premises on which I’ve assisted my wife with gardening jobs (hi-viz was compulsory), we have just worn hi-viz sleeveless vests over the top of our normal clothes. No chance of sunburn through them, not too hot in hot sunny weather, and only cost a few dollars to buy.

4 Likes

Actually Fred there is a requirement in daylight hours. In an outdoor environment where I have worked for over two decades; with these high visibility strips on areas of clothing being popular over the last decade; due to the contrasting colours of the working environment, coupled with all manner of sunshine, or shade, the strips of high visibility on clothing actually does alert one that a person is ones’ vicinity. I was intrigued when i first read this story. I was wondering the type of working environment causing this work related injury ( and possibly also the under garments worn if any ). Personally I have never had any problems with skin injuries resulting from high visibility strips on clothing. Working outdoors in temperatures ranging from -1.0 degrees C to 46 degrees C ( near water ) surrounded by metal, asphalt, concrete, and other materials ( with at times, high levels of pollutants in the air ). I do wear always, either a singlet or t-shirt under the high visibility shirt. I do notice that under extreme ultraviolet exposure that the high visibility strips do become malleable. Another hazard for outdoor workers that I’ll chalk into my mental notebook. Cheers, Peter.

3 Likes