Ensuring Warehouse Safety: Why Hi-Viz Apparel Matters

Hi-viz apparel can help mitigate many of these risks and increase warehousing safety. Here's how.

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Online shopping not only changed the way people buy consumer goods, groceries and almost anything else you can think of. The transformation of purchasing also transformed the warehousing industry. Warehouses have become busier than ever before, and many rely on temporary and seasonal workers to cope with orders.

As workplaces, warehouses have not only become busier, but they are potentially creating more hazards for workers on the floor as goods are stacked higher and forklift trucks move faster to help fulfill orders in time. Hi-viz apparel can help mitigate many of these risks and increase warehousing safety. In this article, we examine standards and regulations for hi-viz apparel and how your company can become a better place to work.

Understanding Hi-Viz Apparel: What is it and How Does it Work?

High visibility safety clothing – or hi-viz clothing for short – is apparel that has been designed specifically to make work workers easier to spot in their workplaces. Most of us will be familiar with hi-viz vests and jackets worn by highway construction workers to protect them from vehicles passing by at high speeds.

Many construction workers are also required to wear high-visibility gear. In either industry, the goal is to limit the chance of severe illness and injury to workers surrounded by heavy machinery and moving vehicles. But what about the warehousing industry?

Gone are the days when warehouses used to be small places with workers pushing around trolleys to collect items. Today’s warehouses are larger, creating enough space for forklift trucks to move through aisles and collect items. They also often feature taller shelves that a person couldn’t reach without a ladder or a forklift.

As a result, warehouse workers are exposed to risks from moving trucks and falling items. Hi-viz gear protects these workers by making them easier to spot. Most high-visibility garments use a combination of fluorescent colors like bright yellow or orange and reflective strips. The combination of both helps employees in hazardous environments stand out. Forklift operators can spot their colleagues more easily and either warn them or drive around them. That is how the warehousing industry can minimize the number of accidents and injuries.

Safety Standards and Regulations: Are There Compliance Requirements for Hi-Viz Apparel?

Like many safety features in American workplaces, high-visibility clothing is subject to regulations. Aside from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) regulations, high-visibility garments are also regulated by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

These standards take a cue from our natural environment. In nature, toxic animals often feature bright colors. These colors are meant to warn other animals in the area to keep their distance and avoid becoming a predator’s next victim. When it comes to workplace safety, the idea is similar. However, rather than warning other workers of a dangerous person, so to speak, we use bright colors to protect those wearing them.

How does it work? Cultural and evolutionary forces have programmed us to pay attention to bright colors and make faster decisions when we see them. Applied to our warehouse scenario, the bright colors of a hi-viz vest cause a forklift operator to pay attention to their colleagues and perhaps step on the vehicle’s brakes.

The Importance and Benefits of Hi-Viz Clothing in Warehouses

After the construction industry, the transportation and warehousing sector has the second-highest number of fatal work injuries. Figures from the Bureau for Labor Statistics (BLS) show that in 2020 alone, more than 800 workers in the sector died. Just under 195,000 were injured in their place of work. Hi-viz clothing can significantly contribute to reducing these statistics. Here is a closer look at how your team can benefit from appropriate hi-viz clothing.

1. Increasing Visibility

First and foremost, high-visibility garments make workers easier to spot in hazardous environments. There is simply less chance of a forklift driver becoming distracted and hitting a colleague when that colleague wears a fluorescent yellow vest with reflective stripes on it.

2. Preventing Accidents and Injuries

By increasing the visibility of workers on the warehouse floor or in other hazardous environments, high-visibility garments automatically prevent or minimize the likelihood of accidents and injuries happening. In an industry that currently has America’s second-highest level of workplace fatalities, this is critical.

3. Ensuring Compliance with Safety Standards

Issuing hi-viz garments to your employees is part of ensuring the business complies with industry-specific, nationwide safety standards. From an employer’s perspective, this type of compliance can protect both employees and workers. Employees benefit from a greater level of safety. Employers limit their risk of having to deal with workers’ compensation claims.

4. Improving Morale and Productivity

Understanding that their employers care about their safety improves your employees’ morale. While issuing hi-viz garments may not seem like a big step, it can be enough to convince the team to take other safety procedures seriously, too.

As a result, the company’s commitment to safety becomes further ingrained in the overall company culture. On a more practical level, increasing safety on the warehouse floor by providing hi-viz gear also increases productivity. Individual workers won’t work faster, but by minimizing time lost due to unplanned absences, the company’s output improves.

5. Providing Versatility and Comfort

What makes hi-viz apparel great? Versatility and comfort are two of the main criteria. Most workers in hazardous places understand the benefits of hi-viz gear. However, if what they are being issued is uncomfortable to wear or makes it harder to do their jobs, workers become less likely to continue wearing their gear.

The best hi-viz garments for warehouse workers are hard-wearing, versatile and comfortable throughout a long working day. Hi-viz garments tend to wear relatively quickly and need to be replaced regularly to remain effective. If that feels wasteful, consider using a brand that recycles hi-viz apparel to limit the amount of waste your business produces.

Hi-viz clothing helps protect warehouse workers in busy and sometimes hazardous environments. By ensuring that workers are easily seen, employers can minimize the risk of accidents and injuries. As a result, morale and productivity increase, and your warehousing business grows. To achieve that, workers need access to effective, high-quality hi-viz gear that is versatile, comfortable, and hard-wearing in their environment.