What safety vest is right for your worksite?

Before choosing the right safety vest for your working conditions it’s important to understand the difference between day and night safety vests. All safety vests increase the visibility of the wearer to those around them and are a form of personal protective equipment (PPE). High visibility (or hi-vis) vests are particularly important for workers that operate around moving machinery and vehicles, such as those working in shipyards, airports, warehouses, railroads, construction and traffic control.

Day Safety Vests

The fluorescent nature of safety vests means that during the day the special pigments in the material act to capture and reflect ultraviolet light from sun rays to make the vest stand out from the surroundings. Class D garments contain fluorescent and other non-retroreflective materials and may only be worn during the day. Class D vests are unsafe for wear outside of daylight hours, including dawn and dusk.

As the sky darkens there isn’t as much UV light for the garment to reflect, and as such the wearer needs more than just brightly coloured material to stand out from the background. This is where day/night vests come in.

Day/Night Safety Vests

Class D/N garments include a combination of fluorescent and retroreflective material and are effective at night-time, meaning they may be worn at any time of day.

The reflective strip of material reflects light from light sources such as vehicle headlights to make the wearer more visible to those around them, no matter the time of day. If your team starts early or runs the risk of working overtime after hours on site, investing in a day/night vest is the safest option to make sure they are covered at all times. All day/night vests must comply with Australian Standard S/NZ 4602.1: 2011 “High visibility safety garments - Garments for high risk applications”. Yellow hi-vis vests and orange hi-vis vests are accepted colours and are mandatory on many worksites.

Night Safety Vests

Class N garments are fit for usage at night only. These vests do not have to have fluorescent colouring but must have retroreflective material such as reflective tape to increase visibility in the dark.

Taping Styles

Class D/N and Class N vests typically come in 2 different configurations of reflective tape - The H-back and the X-back. Which configuration you use may depend on particular industry regulations or personal preference. These styles are also available in long tail form, with a longer back to the vest so that the wearer is still visible even when bent over or leaning forward.

Care Instructions

When the vests are not being worn they should be stored in a location that will not degrade the fluorescent and reflective material so that the garments are maintained to the required Standard. They should always be washed according to the manufacturer’s instructions. It is also important to examine the garments periodically for damage or fading and replace when necessary.


Did you know ATOM have in-house embroidery services that allow you to customise your vests? Getting your vests embroidered with a name, logo, event, location, project or other is a great way to make your team stand out on site and look cohesive. Speak to us today about our fast-turnaround embroidery service.

If you’re unsure which type of vest is right for your worksite, contact a member of the ATOM Safety team today to discuss your requirements.

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ATOM acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands in which we operate in Australia. We recognise their continuing connection to land, waters and community. We pay our respects to them, their cultures; and to elders both past, present and emerging.