A Guide to High Vis Vests

High Vis Workwear and the new ISO EN 20471 Standards

Do you know the EN standards your clothing should meet?

What you can say about a reflective vest? Or so you would think until you find out that choice of styles and brands is increasing every year. The standard high visibility vest has evolved to include many of the features you would expect from workwear jackets such as badge holders, mobile phone pocket and zip fastening etc.

If you are responsible for purchasing hi-vis workwear for your business then you will want to ensure what your supply meets you and your colleague’s needs.  Your colleagues will want style, comfort and to be warm, dry and visible in all conditions.  You will not want to compromise on value-for-money, performance and protection which means you will prefer high vis workwear that is fully certified and tested to the relevant standards.

But do you know exactly what EN471, EN343 and the different classes mean when buying hi-vis safety workwear?

In fact, did you know  the classification for EN471 changed to EN20471?

The testing of the colour of the background material after the washing is a significant improvement to the standard along with the assessment of the garment suitability after washing. However, the Standard does not mandate the manufacturer to declare a maximum number of washes; therefore certification may be granted on testing after 5 washes only on garment which do not place a limit on the number of washes that may be conducted. – This may be considered to be a weakening of the standard.

Currently EN 471:2003 A1:2007 remains the harmonised standard under the PPE directive and can continue to be used for CE certification purposes, however it is expected that over the next few months that EN ISO 20471 will be published in the Official Journal of the EU, and this will announce the date at which EN 471:2003 A1:2007 will have is presumption of conformity to the directive removed.

Until that time applications for EC type certification may be made to either EN471:2003 A1:2007 or EN ISO 20471.

After EN471 has its presumption of conformity withdrawn new product certifications and extensions will be required to be in conformance with EN ISO 20471.

To assist you with this transition we have listed the major changes that have been made to the standard below:

  • Retro-reflective tape - Class 1 retro-reflective tape is no longer an option, ISO 20471 requirements for single performance retro reflective tape is identical to the EN 471 Class 2 tape. However the for performance after washing the test method differs as 20471 requires each cycle to be a wash and dry cycle whereas 471 only required washing after the last cycle. (Product markings no longer will state the performance class of the retro reflective tape). Combined performance tape may still be used on class 1 garments. (again, the test method has changed).
  • Placement of retro-reflective tape- The mandatory patterns for retro-reflective tape remain unchanged, except now it I clarified that additional bands of tape may be used to achieve the required areas.
  • Class 3 garments must now be garments which cover the torso and have either full length sleeves and or full length legs.
  • Garments with short sleeves if the sleeve obscures a torso band of retro reflective tape must now have a band of retro-reflective tape about the sleeves also
  • If the maximum number of washes (or Dryclean cycles) is stated by the manufacturer then fluorescent background material must meet the chromaticity and luminance requirements after the specified number of washes.  If no maximum number of washes is stated then it must meet after 5 washes and this must be reflected in the user information.
  • Tensile strength requirement on fabrics has been reduced
  • Burst strength requirement on fabrics has been reduced
  • Tear strength requirement on  coated fabrics/laminates has been reduced
  • Colourfastness to perspiration has had the staining requirement increased to 4
  • Colourfastness to washing/dry cleaning has had the staining requirement reduced to 4 for non-fluorescent fabrics.
  • Water vapour permeability requirements for fabrics (Excluding Coated/laminate fabrics for protection against rain(not required for vests/waistcoats) requirement has been amended to <5 m2Pa/W  or water vapour permeability index <=0.15

This information is provided as our summary of the new European standard and the correct document should be referred to for your actual risk assessments and product specifications along with advice from a Notified Body if required. Whilst EU Workwear is committed to ensuring that garments are certified to the latest European Standards, amendments to current products in the range can take time as Technical Files and Production Requirements are amended.

For further details and technical support, please contact our sales office on 0345 2000 675 or on info@euworkwear.co.uk

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