Understanding how your PPE works to protect you and also how to wear it properly are two of the most important steps in keeping your people safe. Along with ensuring your employees are wearing the correct PPE, an organisation should also undertake to educate their people on the merits of using the correct PPE in the workplace. A culture of safety should come first; end-users need to understand the risks of their job and the role that PPE plays in reducing on-the-job risks.

An Important Part of Your Safety Solution

Retro-reflective tape is just one simple component in a range of aspects needed to enhance the safety of workers in industries where low visibility conditions are common. Understanding the make-up and function of retro-reflective tape will help you to ensure that your PPE meets the international and regional certification standards, and that your employees have the correct protection against workplace hazards.

How Does Retro-reflective Tape Work?

Retro-reflective tape is used to enhance the safety of the wearer. Low-visibility and low-light working conditions are hazardous and thus, retro-reflective tape has to offer more than simply being light reflective. Retro-reflective tape allows light to travel in and back out from one single point rather than several directions like a reflective surface would. Reflective tape is made of tens of thousands of tiny glass beads, which when exposed to a light source, reflect light back while also providing a clear image of the object directly back to that same light source. It is these qualities that make retro-reflective tape deal for people like firefighters and mine workers, who work in low-visibility environments. In an environment with little or no light, retro-reflective tape enables the wearer to visible and therefore, safer.

Retro-reflective tape allows the wearer to be suitably identified as human as opposed to a static reflective surface or object. For example, in a mine, the headlights of a truck will pick up the retro-reflective tape on the PPE worn by a pedestrian, allowing the truck driver to be able to see whether the object is human and whether they are moving or static. Due to the unique properties of retro-reflective tape, the viewer or approaching vehicle is able to identify the shape of the source and react accordingly. The garment configuration and design is also important as this will assist in identifying whether the wearer is walking towards or away from the light source. PPE designed for low-visibility, high-risk conditions such as mining will have strategically-placed retro-reflective tape on the garment, which is in accordance with their country or region’s high-visibility standards.

High-visibility garments with retro-reflective tape are deliberately designed to make the wearer stand out and to help to increase their safety on the job and in the workplace.

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High-visibility Standards Across the Globe

The key requirements of high-visibility PPE differ according to region. The European Union is governed by EN ISO 20 471 while the US is governed by ANSI 107; both dictate the compliance criteria required for high visibility garments and PPE in that particular region.

High-visibility Certification Requirements for the USA

In order to be ANSI 107 compliant, a garment must bear reflective tape. The standard specifies the amount of tape required on a garment, the tape’s placement on the garment and how the garments must be worn to ensure that the tape is unobstructed and that its function is uninhibited.

European Union high-visibility certification requirements

The European standard for high-visibility garments stipulates the requirements that must be met in order for a garment to achieve EN ISO 204/71 certification. The standard’s requirements cover aspects such as the minimum area of reflectivity on a garment, the placement of reflective tape on high-visibility garments and also the base fabric colour on high-visibility PPE. This high-visibility standard stipulates only three approved colours may be used on garments and PPE; these are red, orange and fluorescent yellow. The physical properties of a material must also meet the EN ISO 204/71 requirements; the properties include the material’s tensile strength, its dimensional stability and its thermal resistance. EN ISO 204/71 dictates the degree of reflectivity that must come from the garment’s reflective strips, as well as garment maintenance guidelines to ensure the garment remains compliant. Improper care and maintenance will affect the performance of the garment and may mean it is no longer fit-for-purpose and therefore cannot verifiably be deemed compliant.

The prescriptive requirements of the standard ensure that high-visibility garments meet the safety criteria for a range of high-risk environments across a broad spectrum of industrial sectors.

Trust the Safety Experts to Offer You the Best Solution-driven Design

The EU standard, EN471, was replaced by EN ISO 204/71 in 2013, rendering all high-visibility garments produced before that time, non-compliant. Generally, certificates governed by standards like EN ISO 204/71 only remain valid for 5 years, so understanding compliance is key when it comes to the design of your PPE. As global leaders, CHARNAUD is experienced with manufacturing PPE that meets with international and regional standards of certification in various industrial sectors.

With safety of workers being the main concern for most organisations, the branding of garments may be an afterthought. Incorrectly applying branding to specialised PPE like high-visibility workwear can affect the garment’s performance, ultimately resulting in a garment that does not meet the required high-visibility certification standard. The team at CHARNAUD are ready to advise you on how best to brand your garments while ensuring they meet the necessary safety standards, whatever high-risk conditions your employees may work in.

PPE aftercare should not be an afterthought; regular maintenance and monitoring of the condition of your PPE should be an ongoing process. PPE that is properly cared for will have greater longevity and will help you to realise a good return on your investment. Improper care of your garments will also affect their protective properties and put your workers at greater risk. Caring for your PPE is important and so it is beneficial to allow CHARNAUD to guide you on the best practice for the care of your PPE.

Whatever the context, it is important that your PPE is suited to the unique risks and conditions that your organisation’s workers face. A crucial part of this process involves selecting the correct PPE for the intended hazard, while also knowing how to care for your PPE so it remains fit-for-purpose for as long as possible. CHARNAUD offers you the best bespoke solutions when it comes to the safety of your people and works closely with the organisation’s Health & Safety Executives to ensure that the PPE is suited to the hazard, while also meeting international and regional safety certifications.

Stay Safe with CHARNAUD’s Protective Gear

CHARNAUD brings you head-to-foot protective wear for your workforce that ensures important safety regulations are met. Contact us today to ensure your workforce is kitted out in the safest gear possible.

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