Les 9 choses à savoir sur les vêtements à haute visibilité

You work on a construction site, in a warehouse, on an airport runway, or any other site where a few seconds' inattention puts you at risk of incidents?
In any working environment, safety must always be a top priority. This is why wearing high-visibility clothing is essential to guarantee safety and minimize accidents in such environments.

Designed with fluorescent materials and reflective elements, these garments are more than just a fashion statement. They are tools that improve visibility and make workers easier to spot, especially in hazardous conditions or low-light environments.

Whether it's a work jacket with reflective stripes, high-visibility overalls, a safety flag, fluorescent pants or armbands, these are all essentials to make sure you're seen by others. The most important role is to alert drivers to the presence of workers in the area.

Ever wondered whether the item you're buying is the best safety option? Here are the 9 essentials you need to know about high-visibility safety clothing.

The 9 Factors

High-visibility clothing, often referred to as "hi-vis" or fluorescent garments, are clothing designed with specific features and materials to maximize visibility in low-light conditions or in low-visibility environments obstructed by safety barriers, merchandise,or materials.

When wearing high-visibility clothing,there are several important factors to consider to maximize its effectivenessand ensure your personal safety. Here are just a few:

1. Lighting and Weather Conditions

Do you work outdoors at night? Do you work in a dark, low-light environment? Maximize your chances of being seen! Visibility is crucial in low-light situations. In this case, opt for a high-visibility clothing that surrounds the whole body, providing better visibility in all directions.

Also, be alert of the weather; if it's predicting a gray day, fog, rain, snow, or if you're working at dawn or dusk, you'll need to dress accordingly for your safety. In these conditions, high-visibility clothing is a must. If you have a high-visibility vest, but put a raincoat over it, you risk lowering your required level of visibility. That's why it's a good idea to think about buying a safety raincoat or safety fleece in case of rain or cooler days.

2. The Risks

Wondering when to wear high-visibility safety clothing? First, it's important to identify the hazards present in your workplace:

  • What type of tasks do you perform? Are they hazardous to your safety?
  • Are you in the presence of rolling stock?
  • Are you exposed to heat or flames? 
  • Are you exposed to hazards around you? 
  • Are there any obstacles in your working environment? 
  • Does the lighting provide good visibility? 
  • Are you sheltered from the weather? 
  • Are you in a traffic zone where speed is an issue? 
  • Are reaction distances necessary in your workplace?
  • Are there any distractions at your workplace?

    Once you've answered these questions, you'll have a better idea of whether safety clothing is appropriate.

3. Clothing Type

Choose high-visibility clothing tailored to your specific needs. Consider the type of activity you'll be doing, the work environment, the weather conditions, and the level of visibility required. Choose from vests, jackets, raincoats, pants and accessories to suit your situation.

Note that safety clothing must fit snugly so that the high-visibility stripes are clearly visible when you're on the move. Clothing that's too loose will hide them, reducing your safety. Choose comfortable, lightweight clothing so you can get through the day!

4. Colour

Prioritize safety clothing in bright, fluorescent colors such as bright yellow-green or bright orange,which offer better contrast to your working environment. This way, you're sure to be visible, especially in low-light conditions or at dawn and dusk.

5. Material Type

Fluorescent and retroreflective materials are both commonly used in the manufacturing of high-visibility clothing, but they have different objectives for improving visibility.

Fluorescent: Fluorescent materials are designed to enhance visibility by absorbing light at one wavelength and emitting it at a longer wavelength. This property allows them to appear extremely bright and vivid,even in low-light conditions or on visually cluttered backgrounds.

Note that fluorescent colors are most effective during the day, when natural light is present.

: Retroreflective materials, on the other hand, are designed to reflect light back to its source over long distances, regardless of the direction from which it comes. These materials contain tiny glass beads or prisms that reflect light back to its source, making the wearer more visible to others.

Retroreflective elements, such as strips or tapes, are strategically placed to reflect light back to its source in low-light or night-time situations, for example in the presence of headlights or other light sources. They are most effective at night, or in situations where visibility is limited.

To maximize visibility in various lighting conditions, high-visibility clothing often combine fluorescent and retroreflective materials. By combining these two types of material, clothing offer improved visibility by day and night, and in a variety of lighting conditions, reducing the risk of accidents and enhancing personal protection.

6. Type of Stripes

 Did you know that there are specific criterias for clothing stripes on high-visibility clothing? According to the CSA-Z96-15 standard, you must have:

  • 1 horizontal band around the entire waist.
  • 2 vertical stripes at front, from shoulders to waist.
  • A symmetrical "X" on the back, from shoulders to waist.
  • For ''Class 3'' clothing, bands must encircle both arms and legs.
  • The minimum width of the bands must not be less than 50 mm from end to end.
  • If there are several bands on the garment, they must be at least 50 mm apart.
  • Gaps for fastenings and seams must not exceed 50 mm.
  • Horizontal bands placed near the edge of a garment, sleeve or trouserleg must not be less than 50 mm from the edge.
  • Horizontal stripes on trouser legs must be at or below knee level.
  • If bands around the arms and legs of ''Class 3'' clothing are made of retroreflective material, they must be made of 50 mm of the conforming base material on one side, or 25 mm on each side of the retroreflectivestripes/stripes.

7. Label

Wondering if your safety clothing meets the CSA Z96-15 standard? Look at the label on the inside of your sweater or raincoat. It should say CSA Z96-15 and the type of class on the garment, as well as the performance level of the reflective material.

8. Type of Maintenance

To ensure maximum protection, safety clothing must be regularly maintained. If there are dust stains or dirt, you reduce your visibility in the workplace. Refer to your garment's care label for cleaning instructions if you're unsure.

It's also important to check the condition of your clothing; if it's worn, torn or contaminated, it's time to replace it! It wouldn't be safe to continue wearing them, as their effectiveness and visibility would be greatly affected.

9. Clothing Classes

CSA Standard Z96-15 – High-visibility safety clothing - defines 3 classes of safety clothing, depending on the risks involved. This means that there are regulations governing the garment's fit, color, type of reflective strips and the brightness of the base materials.

*Note that clothing class specifications are similar for the USA with ANSI/ISEA 107 Standard. The only difference is that in Canada we require a body surface to be covered, rather than a minimum area to be covered.

Class 1: LOW RISK
Provides the lowest recognized coverage and good visibility. Covers the smallest recognized surface area of the body and provides good visibility in low-risk situations. High-visibility clothing is not mandatory for this class but must be worn with high-visibility or retroreflective strips. 

Type of job: 

  • Workers directing vehicle operators to parking or service locations. 
  • Workers retrieving shopping carts in parking areas. 
  • Workers in warehouse operations. 
  • "Right-of-Way" or sidewalk maintenance workers. 
  • Workers in shipping or receiving operations.     

Cover sa moderately large area of the body and provides excellent visibility in a medium-risk situation. High-visibility clothing is mandatory for this class and must be fluorescent/bright orange or fluorescent/bright yellow.

Type of job: 

  • Roadway construction,utility, forestry, or railway workers.
  • Manufacturing, plant, or mill workers. 
  • Survey crews.
  • School crossing guards.
  • Parking and toll gate workers. 
  • Airport baggage handlers and ground crews.
  • Emergency response personnel. 
  • Members of law enforcement.
  • Accident site investigators. 
  • Railway workers.

Class 3: HIGH RISK
Covers the largest surface area of the body and provides the best visibility in low-light conditions and at a distance in a medium-risk situation. High visibility clothing must be fluorescent/bright orange or fluorescent/bright yellow, with high-visibility stripes on the arms and legs. Workers must wear high visibility clothing for the upper and lower parts of the body(pants).

Type of job: 

  • Roadway construction workers. 
  • Utility workers. 
  • Survey crews. 
  • Mine workers. 
  • Emergency responders. 
  • Road assistance or courtesy patrols.
  • Flagging crews. 
  • Towing operators.


A significant number of accidents occur due to poor visibility. Poor visibility can lead to collisions, workplace incidents and other unfortunate events. High-visibility clothing is a proactive accident prevention measure, providing an early warning signal to people nearby.

 By wearing high-visibility clothing, individuals increase their chances of being noticed, giving others more time to react and avoid potential accidents. The reflective properties of high-visibility clothing are particularly useful at night, as they reflect light from headlights or other sources, making the wearer more visible from a distance. Whether at work, on the road or in recreational activities, high-visibility clothing should be considered an essential personal protection tool.

In summary, you're never safe from the weather, so make sure you have a change of clothes. Even if you leave a high-visibility raincoat or a pair of safety pants in your car, you'll be glad you have them. Prevention is better than a cure! 

Source for the 3 classes and info : https://www.cchst.ca/oshanswers/prevention/ppe/high_visibility.html