Reflective safety clothes can quite literally save your life in many instances, and so it is worth knowing how the materials work and how they can make sure you are properly seen. This will also help you to make the right decisions if you are thinking about investing in new safety clothing for yourself or your workforce.
The Types of Reflective Material
There are two main kinds of reflective wear. These are Micro-Prismatic and Glass Bead tapes or material. Both can be used, but there is a difference in the cost and in the way in which they work.
The former is very effective and quite complex. It is made up of small reflective prisms which are sealed within a sheet of plastic vinyl.
This type of material, which can work in a similar way to Chapter 8 chevrons on a vehicle when it comes to increasing visibility, works by allowing light to bounce from prism to prism in a triangular formation. This type of reflection is known as retro-reflective, as the light travels back to the source rather than being refracted around multiple spots.
The glass bead material, however, is probably the best known and, just as you might expect to see Chapter 8 chevrons on appropriate vehicles, this is the type of workwear material most commonly seen as high-visibility vests and jackets worn by roadside and construction workers.
This tape material is made up of reflective beads which bounce light around in all sorts of different directions. It is cheaper to make than micro-prism material but is still effective.
The Drawbacks of Reflective Material
Both of these are good options for increasing visibility, which can be incredibly important at work. Read more about this at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/workplacetransport/factsheets/clothing.htm.
The downside of reflective materials, however, is that they need light to work. This means that car headlights, for example, must hit the hi-vis material in order to reflect back to the driver.
This is why it can also be worthwhile wearing bright or neon colours to add to the effectiveness of the reflective materials which are also being used. This may lead to you being seen just a few seconds early – something which can really make a difference when it comes to preventing what could turn out to be a very serious accident.