The Risk Management Tool Box Blog

Is high-visibility clothing really necessary?

Graham Marshall - Sunday, March 10, 2013

There is no doubt that in some jobs high visibility clothing is absolutely necessary.

Anywhere that people and vehicles are in close proximity, for example.

At the roadside; on railways; or in maritime situations with a risk of "man overboard".

But is hi-vis really needed in offices?

Or for workers who visit people's homes or work in children in playgrounds?

What's the logic behind wearing hi-viz in those low-risk situations?

As Judith Hackitt, head of the UK Health and Safety Executive has recently identified, the spread of hi-viz clothing is symptomatic of the wider over-application of health and safety regulations.

It's a symptom of people presuming that something which is good and necessary in one circumstance must be good and necessary in all situations.

Except it isn't.

The need to clothe all adults and children in protective clothing has no basis in law.

Health and Safety Regulations covering protective clothing were introduced to help manage real risk, not as part of unthinking, blanket policies.

If you work in a high risk workplace, then hi-viz may be necessary.

But if there is little risk, then the law does not require you to wear hi-viz

We all need to be able to distinguish when it is necessary and when it is not.

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