High Visibility Protection – zoom on the EN ISO 20471 standard


Fog, night, day, low light situations, all dangerous conditions for construction, road safety, airport runway staff, rippers…where high visibility clothing is essential. High visibility waistcoats, high visibility jackets, high visibility trousers…fluorescent clothing but above all signalling clothing.

ISO 20471 « High visibility standard– test methods and requirements »

As of 28th June 2013, the new EN ISO 20471:2013 standard officially replaces EN 471:2003+A1:2007.

Signalling clothing or high visibility clothing is recognisable by 2 elements: its fluorescent colour and its retro-reflective strips. The ISO 20471 standard precisely regulates the characteristics of thesehigh visibility garments, imposing performance requirements for fluorescent colour and retroreflection, as well as minimum surface areas and the positioning of materials.

Fluorescent materials can be yellow, orange-red or red in colour. Their role is to react to UV daylight to allow the user of the high visibility garment to be seen, thanks to a contrast with the natural environment. The user’s torso must be completely covered with this fluorescent material.

The retro-reflective strips ensure the worker’s visibility at night. They reflect the light at its source. For example, on the road, retroreflective strips reflect the light of vehicle headlights. EN 20471 requires the strips to be at least 50 mm high. For high visibility garments covering the legs, such as overalls, 2 horizontal bands must encircle each leg.

The major change compared to EN471 is the 360° visibility. It is now mandatory that horizontal retro-reflective strips surround the torso, legs and arms.

Class 3,2,1: What about this classification

The 3-class classification established by the previous EN471 standard remains in force. Thus, depending on the surface area of fluorescent material and retroreflective material, the high visibility garment is class 1, class 2 or class 3.

Class 3: the highest level, corresponding to 0.80 m² of fluorescent colour and 0.2 m² of retro stripes. Class 3 is recommended for high visibility trousers, parka, jacket. For a personal protective garment to be class 3, it must have sleeves. The new standard now allows a high visibility suit to be class 3 if the jacket is class 2 and the high visibility trousers are also class 2. The unit is then certified class 3.

Class 2: the intermediate level of visibility. The fluorescent material should be 0.50 m² and the strip material 0.13 m². High visibility waistcoats, overalls, workwear, for example, are class 2.

Class 1: the lowest level of visibility for which the fluorescent material is 0.14 m² and 0.10 m² for retro-reflective materials. Harnesses are class 1 for example.

The new EN ISO 20471:2013 pictogram now only displays a number that corresponds to the class of the garment.


During the day, the high visibility warning garment draws attention to the user, and at night it helps to recognise people. Without protection, an individual on a road at night can be seen from only 30 m away, whereas a motorist travelling at 50 km/h would need 60 m to brake. It would be too late for the pedestrian. Equipped with a 2-stripe waistcoat, the same person becomes visible at least 160 m away. A vehicle at 90 km/h will take 120 m to stop. And a life is saved!

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