Regulatory focus is at the core of our reflective science approach

Throughout the world regulatory standards can often fuel the progress of industrial health and safety. As technologies, work sites and lifestyles evolve, the visibility of people, as well as safety standards, is constantly being refined for improved on- and off-the-job safety.

Our technical experts are working with universities, associations, standardisation bodies and research institutes around the world to help make the world a safer, more visible place. Visibility science concepts underpin all the work we undertake and we utilise human factor studies to verify and sustain product development as well as to improve global visibility standards.

ISO 20471 – High visibility clothing – Test methods and requirements​ ​

The ISO 20471 standard sets the requirements for garments that improve the visibility of a person exposed to traffic or moving parts of mechanised equipment. In scientific terms, an ISO 20471 garment increases the conspicuity of the wearer, meaning that the ‘object must be a minimum size, create a sufficient contrast with the background environment and allow the recognition of a pedestrian presence’.​

ISO 20471 can be read as the sum of minimum requirements for the amount of highly visible material (Fluorescent for daylight, retroreflective for nighttime, 3 classes of performance dependent on the amount), design and high visible materials’ performance.​

Garments class​
The minimum amount of highly visible material, in m2 according to Table 1 of ISO 20471:​

  • Fluorescent material:
    Class 3: 0,80 | Class 2: 0,50 | Class 1: 0,14
  • Retroreflective material:
    Class 3: 0,20 | Class 2: 0,13 | Class 1: 0,10
  • Combined performance material:
    Class 3: - | Class 2: - | Class 1: 0,20

The amount of material should be calculated on the smallest size available, with the garment flat on the table. ​Combined performance material can be used instead of fluorescent and retroreflective material.​

Design indications​
There are several requirements for design (§4.2 in ISO 20471) and these are the most important:​

  • Background material must encircle the torso and, where applicable, the sleeves and trouser legs​
  • Bands of retroreflective material should not be less than 50mm wide​
  • Three design possibilities for jackets, waistcoats, shirts, coats and tabards​
  • Horizontal stripes can have a maximum inclination of 20%​
  • Distance between two bands must be at least 50mm​
  • Gaps in the horizontal stripes are permitted for seams and fastenings. They cannot be wider than 50mm each and, in total, not greater than 100mm for the torso and 50mm for sleeves and trouser legs.​

Jacket Graphic

Background material requirements​

Three colours are permitted: fluorescent red-orange, fluorescent yellow and fluorescent red. The colours are well defined by the luminance factor and the colour box (Table 2 of ISO 20471). There are several requirements for fluorescent materials, such as resistance to UV radiation (done with an xenon test), colour fastness after perspiration, laundering, dry cleaning, hot pressing and minimum tensile strength, dimensional changing and breathability etc.​

​Retroreflective material requirements​

The retroreflective material must fulfill the requirements of Table 4 (known as the 330 Table). If it is a combined performance material, then it has to fulfill much lower retroreflective requirements, shown in Table 5. For this reason combined performance materials are allowed only for Class 1 garments, offering a lower level of protection.​

​In addition, the reflective materials have to fulfill requirements such as resistance to abrasion, flexing, temperature variation, washing and rainfall. Washing methods depend on the final use of the product and may include dry cleaning, home or industrial wash. On completion of all these tests, the retroreflective material must still have a minimum performance at the head-on angle (observation angle 12’, entrance 5°). This is different for retroreflective materials and combined performance. ​

This standard is still in preparation. In principle, it will replace both EN 1150 and EN 13356. The major difference with the current visibility standards is that the new standard will allow garments to protect the wearer either for daytime or for nighttime conditions (ISO 20471 and EN 1150 require both day and nighttime protection). The other notable feature of this standard is that it will cover medium risk situations, such as working in industry (for example, with slow moving vehicles), jogging along slow speed roads or biking. It is still unclear as to when this standard will be published.​

EN 1150 sets the standard that high visibility clothing must meet to ensure that the wearer is clearly visible to motorists against the background in all weather and lighting conditions. To achieve this, clothing must have a combination of fluorescent material for daytime visibility and reflective material for nighttime and low light conditions. The standard sets the minimum design and performance requirements and applies only to clothing for non-professional use. Design requirements are less strict than in ISO EN 20471, the amount of high visible material lower and the number of allowed fluorescent colors is higher.​

This standard is used for soft reflective free hanging or loose accessories. These are items that are for non-professional use and are attached temporarily and can easily be removed from the wearer’s garments or person. Typical examples are dangle tags or arm bands. Both manufacturers and buyers of reflective accessories are advised to use only products that meet this standard.​

The EN 469 standard covers requirements for clothing used during firefighting operations. It includes design requirements as well as thermal and mechanical material requirements including heat transfer, flame spread and tensile resistance.​
It also sets visibility requirements for firefighter garments and these are detailed in §6.14 and Annex B of the standard. The use of visibility material is not obligatory and its integration in the garment depends on the risk assessment. If reflective material is used, the following criteria must be met.

Minimum amount of material
Retroreflective material must give all-round visibility by encircling the arms, legs and torso regions of the garment. The minimum amount of visible material, if used, should be as follows:​

  • Fluorescent material: 0,20 m²
  • Retroreflective material: 0,13 m²

Fluorescent material requirements
As with ISO 20471, the colours are very well defined by the luminance factor and the colour box (Table 2 of ISO 20471).​

Retroreflective material requirements
The retroreflective material needs to be as defined in Table 4 of ISO 20471.​
If a combined performance material, then it has to fulfill much lower retroreflective requirements, shown in Table 5 of ISO 20471.​

The retroreflective products must also pass a flame-spread test and a heat resistance test:

Flame-spread test
This test is carried out on all materials used in firefighters clothing, in accordance with ISO 15025, Procedure A. The material is initially put in contact with a well-defined flame; it should not flame, nor give off molten debris; there should be no after-flame, nor after-glow; in addition, no hole should be formed in the material. ​

Heat resistance test
For this test the material is put in an oven at 180°C for 5 minutes, in accordance with ISO 17493. It should not drip, ignite, melt nor shrink more than 5%. After the heat resistance test, the retroreflective material must still have a minimum performance at the head-on angle.​

This standard specifies the performance requirements for wildland fire fighting clothing. It helps prevent fire fighters developing high levels of metabolic heat when tackling forest fires. It does this by ensuring that the clothing worn is both lightweight and effective, minimising stress to the wearer. There must also be on the clothing at least 0.13m² of retroreflective material or at least 0.2m² if the material has combined characteristics.

This standard specifies the performance requirements for protective clothing for technical rescue. This involves work associated with situations found during, for example, road collisions or working in and around collapsed structures, often for extended periods of time. The standard covers the general clothing design, the minimum performance levels of the materials used, the methods of test to be used to determine these performance levels, as well as the marking and information supplied by the manufacturer. Visibility requirements are very close to the ones of ISO EN 20471.​

This standard specifies the minimum safety requirements and test methods for protective clothing including hoods, aprons, sleeves and gaiters that are designed the protect the wearer’s body during welding and allied processes of similar risk. This standard does not cover requirements for feet, hands or face including eye protectors. Guidance for the selection of type of welder’s clothing for different welding activities is detailed in Annex A.​

This standard specifies performance requirements for protective clothing designed to protect the wearer’s body (excluding hands and feet) from heat and/or flames. The standard is applicable to protective clothing that can be worn for a wide range of end uses, and where is a need for clothing with limited flame spread properties or where the wearer may be exposed to radiant or, convective heat or molten metal splashes.​

This standard specifies the performance requirements for the limited flame spread properties of materials, material assemblies and protective clothing in order reduce the risk of clothes burning. It is intended to protect wearers against occasional and brief contact with small igniting flames. When protection against heat hazards is necessary, in addition to protection against limited spread flammability, then standards such as ISO 11612 are more appropriate.​

This standard enables textile manufacturers to test their fabrics and garments for resistance to exacting washing and drying processes used in industrial laundries for care and maintenance purposes. It is not practical to undertake rigorous testing of textiles in an industrial laundry environment, so this standard enables manufacturers to test their fabrics and garments for resistance to exacting washing and drying processes by using defined intermediate scale equipment. Testing can be done in a laboratory setting, under exacting and standardised conditions, for properties such as dimensional stability, colour fastness, creasing, seam puckering, pilling and general visual aspects. ​

This standard is used to test textile performance and quality when subjected to domestic washing and drying procedures. Properties tested include smoothness, shrinkage, stain removal, water resistance, water repellence, colour fastness. This standard not only includes the fabrics but also the performance of apparel, home products and other textile articles. Washing and drying machines as well as detergents are selected according to the country in which the textiles will be used by the wearer. ​

Follow Us
The brands listed above are trademarks of 3M.
Change Location
United Kingdom - English