Have you ever wondered what colors are considered high visibility? While red, yellow-green, and orange-red are the commonly recognized high visibility colors, other colors can also enhance visibility in specific circumstances.
Whether you’re interested in improving your own visibility or looking to implement high visibility clothing or gear for a team or workplace, understanding the science of color can be beneficial.
In this article, we will explore the concept of high visibility colors and delve into some lesser-known options that can improve visibility.
If you want to learn more about high vis colors, keep reading!
Table of Contents
- 3 ANSI-approved High Visibility Colors
- Other High Visibility Vests
- The Importance of High Visibility Colors
- Fluorescent Vs. Retroreflective Material: What is the Difference?
- What Color is the Most Unnoticeable?
- Frequently Asked Questions
3 ANSI-approved High Visibility Colors
By definition, high visibility colors are bright, vibrant colors that are easily distinguishable from their surroundings. The ANSI standard American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard 107-2020 issues the approved high visibility color chart that should be religiously followed.
The colors included therein are deemed the highest visibility colors and essential in making a high visibility vest, jacket, and other apparel. Here are the three high-visibility colors:
1. Fluorescent yellow-green
Considered the color with the highest visibility, fluorescent yellow-green can stand out against dark backdrops like black, gray, or brown—the most common colors in an urban environment.
As a result, fluorescent yellow-green is the best option for employees in dangerous settings like construction sites.
This particular color is often a subject of debate in the safety industry, particularly the safety green vs safety yellow debate. Due to its positioning between these two shades, the terms “safety yellow” and “safety green” are sometimes used interchangeably.
Ultimately, whether a garment is labeled as safety yellow or safety green may vary depending on the manufacturer.
2. Fluorescent orange
High vis orange is also frequently utilized in outdoor work settings like highways, construction sites, and other places where there is a lot of traffic. This is because the color stands out against a variety of settings, such as green landscapes, gray cityscapes, and blue sky, and is simple to spot.
In addition, fluorescent oranges can indicate that there are hazards nearby, and onlookers should be aware of their surroundings.
3. Fluorescent red
Fluorescent red is the newest color approved by ANSI. Just like fluorescent yellow-green and fluorescent orange, this color also enhances visibility, especially in dimly lit environments.
Red hi vis shirts and vests are specifically designated for firefighters, and other emergency workers. That said, combining fluorescent red with more reflective material is recommended to enhance visibility.
Other High Visibility Vests
Aside from abiding the high-visibility clothing requirements, ANSI also mentions that before wearing a high-vis vest, the users should take into account their natural and working environments in order to pick the right color.
However, the safety vest color code is not only limited to fluorescent yellow, fluorescent red, and orange. Although not recognized as “official” colors, there are other colors that can still be helpful in making the wearer visible in certain environments or circumstances.
But what are the other safety vest colors meaning and uses?
Blue safety vests aren’t really meant to improve visibility like ANSI-approved hi-vis apparel. Instead, the blue safety vest meanings indicate the wearer is a security guard, technician, police officer, or medical personnel.
Although pink high-vis workwear exists, you shouldn’t wear them to potentially dangerous environments, such as construction sites. As they are not ANSI-certified, they are only used in special events, such as Breast Cancer Awareness ones.
Vests made from black fabric are usually accented with reflective tape. They’re an ideal option for industries that don’t require hi-vis garments but encourage their employees to wear safety vests to improve workplace safety.
The Importance of High Visibility Colors
Now that you have identified the high visibility colors and the other safety vest colors, you may wonder why workers, especially those in high-risk areas, are always wearing bright highly visible clothing.
In hazardous environments like construction sites or roadsides, high visibility colors play a vital role in ensuring that workers stand out and remain visible to everyone in the vicinity. Without any personal protective equipment or PPE that makes them visible, workers may get into accidents that stem from them not being spotted.
Fluorescent Vs. Retroreflective Material: What is the Difference?
Two of the terms that you may encounter when learning about hi-vis clothing are fluorescence and retroreflectivity. After all, these are two important properties that you should look for in hi-vis apparel.
Fluorescence is the ability of materials to absorb light of one color and emits light of a different hue. This characteristic also allows fluorescent materials to be visible even in low-light environments.
On the other hand, retro-reflectivity is the ability to reflect light back to its source rather than scattering it in all directions.
Many hi-vis clothing items are designed with both fluorescent and retroreflective materials to maximize visibility. For example, a safety vest might have a fluorescent yellow or orange background with retroreflective stripes or panels.
What Color is the Most Unnoticeable?
While high visibility colors are effective in grabbing your attention, there are other colors that may not be as effective in drawing one’s focus.
One of the hues that are notoriously difficult to distinguish visually is purple. Equally hard to spot is blue. So if there’s a vest with violet-purple and blue, it would be very difficult for the human eyes to focus on.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are hi-vis vests required in construction?
Considering that there are construction workers wear orange hi-vis vests, you may wonder if construction high visibility clothing is being required.
High visibility apparel is not expressly called for in the PPE regulations set forth by OSHA. They do, however, mandate that companies give workers the proper PPE to shield them from risks that could result in disease or injury.
This includes wearing gear that is appropriate for the task at hand and offers sufficient defense against dangers like exposure to dangerous chemicals, falling objects, and electrical hazards.
However, if the site is on a street or a highway with exposure to heavy traffic and dangerous equipment, a hi-vis vest is a must-have.
What are the OSHA high visibility colors?
The hi vis colors recognized by OSHA are in accordance with the standards set forth by ANSI.
However, OSHA has issued its own guidelines on construction safety colors. These safety colors are utilized in safety signages and markings in construction and other industries in order to minimize accidents.
In high-risk workplaces where being invisible might constitute a major hazard, high visibility clothing is essential. To protect their safety, professionals must wear the proper high-visibility clothing.
Therefore, much attention is required while selecting this clothing, from knowing what colors are considered high visibility to understanding the significance of each color. By doing so, you can be confident that your outfit will give you optimum visibility and protection.
Veronica is our content editor. She is a talent in delivery. Her main work is editing and writing articles that are both informative and simple to follow. She is in charge of synthesizing our understanding of what personal protection equipment (PPE) is needed in each job, how to best apply it, and how to visualize that equipment.