All high-visibility garments that are offered for sale within the member states of the European Union (EU) must be CE marked. CE marking of high-visibility garments is achieved by assessing the garment against a harmonised standard. There are three harmonised standards that are used to assess visibility articles, two are for garments and the third is for high visibility accessories. The definitions that are applied to PPE are such that high-visibility items are classified as category II products; this means that their certification must be undertaken by an EU Notified Body, such as SATRA.
Conventionally, in order to achieve the status of a type certified product high-visibility items must have all of their component materials tested, in line with a harmonised standard. They must be subjected to both design and ergonomic assessments, and they must have a technical report compiled that shows details of their manufacture, materials, design and specific attributes.
All high-visibility products are made with materials that are retro-reflective, that is they are materials that are very effective at returning light from a source of illumination back towards its point of origin. They create a cone of retro-reflected light; hence an observer within that cone will see a wearer of the materials. These materials are primarily intended to enhance a person’s visibility in the dark, when they are illuminated by vehicle headlights.
High-visibility garments also include, as part of their construction, background materials that are intended to provide enhanced visibility in daylight. These are fabrics that are coloured with fluorescent dyes.
High visibility accessories are items intended to be worn by individuals, they include slap wraps, belts and dangling accessories. They are only assessed for their retro-reflectivity.