All high-visibility garments that are offered for sale within the member states of the European Union (EU) must be CE marked. CE marking requires a product to be assessed against the requirements of PPE legislation.
The definitions that are applied to PPE mean that high-visibility items are classified as category II products: this classification means they must undergo a certification procedure which is undertaken by an EU Notified Body, such as SATRA.
Conventionally, in order to achieve the status of a CE marked product high-visibility items must have all of their component materials tested, usually in line with a harmonised standard. They must be subjected to both design and ergonomic assessments, and they must have a technical file compiled that shows details of their manufacture, materials, design and specific attributes.
All high-visibility products incorporate materials that are retro-reflective, that is materials that are very effective at returning directional light that strikes their surface back towards its point of origin. They create a cone of retro-reflected light; hence an observer within that cone will see a wearer of the materials. These materials are primarily intended to enhance a person’s visibility in the dark, when they are illuminated by vehicle headlights.
High-visibility garments also incorporate background materials, fluorescent fabrics that enhance a wearer’s visibility in daylight. These are fabrics that are coloured with fluorescent dyes.
There are three harmonised standards that are used to assess visibility articles, two are for garments and the third is for high visibility accessories.
High visibility accessories are items intended to be worn by individuals, they include slap wraps, belts and dangling accessories. They are only assessed for their retro-reflectivity.