2008 October 16

At this time of year thousands upon thousands of council workers, up and down the land, trade in their high-vis waistcoat for their high-vis jacket. Cyclists and bikers, who’ve been taking their life in their hands all summer, remember with pleasure their high visibility waterproofs, and young people find their school coats have sprouted reflective armbands or even whole children’s high-vis vests in luminous yellow.

High visibility clothing saves a life a day, so ROSPA claims, and this includes road accidents, industrial accidents, and injuries to those in the response services who have to deal with everybody else’s problems.

Children’s Hi-Vis, in particular, are responsible for many fewer young people being hit by cars as they walk home from school in the dusk. Safety clothing doesn’t only save lives in potential accidents. Actually putting on high vis clothing or safety wear causes the person concerned to think about the task they are about to perform, meaning that the focus on potential risks more carefully than they would if they were casually dressed.

But high-vis is also high impact, and having a workforce that is clearly identified as professional and ‘on the job’ can reduce delays in a hundred areas from deliveries through to site inspections or even getting projects signed off. Why, because we’re all trained to respond to certain signals, and when we see a person in high-visibility gear we assume they’re either in charge or in a hurry, so we tend to deal with them before we deal with other people who are less obviously marked out as being busy or important!

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