What Is The High Visibility Standard For Rail Clothing?


The Importance Of Wearing High Visibility Clothing

Did you know there is a high visibility standard for rail clothing? High visibility clothing (also known as hi vis) is a vital requirement where visibility to the wearer in any light condition is needed. High visibility clothing compliant with EN ISO 20471 must be worn and maintained correctly for maximum protection in high-risk situations but when an individual is working on a railway, they must wear hi vis clothing that also complies with RIS-3279-TOM (formerly GO-RT 3279). This standard is only applicable to the UK rail industry and ensures that rail workers on or near the trackside are visible to both trains and other vehicles.

Ok, so why is railway standard high visibility clothing orange?

Traditionally, yellow and green are both used for train signalling, so rail workers wore high visibility orange clothing to avoid confusing the train drivers. Most rail maintenance work takes place in rural areas which makes orange a much better option for improved visibility. A worker wearing yellow hi vis clothing can blend into a green location while hi vis orange contrasts strongly against light and dark environments.

What’s the difference between yellow and orange safety standards?

In the UK, individuals working on or near a railway must wear high visibility clothing that meets the requirements of EN 20471 and RIS-3279-TOM. The standard states: ‘high visibility clothing worn by people on the lineside or on or near the line should conform to a single standard for the colour and luminance of background material and that this standard will accord with the detail contained within BS EN 20471:2013 high visibility clothing – Test methods and requirements (ISO 20471:2013).’

Even though EN ISO 20471 permits the use of yellow, orange-red and red, RIS-3279-TOM only applies to hi vis orange clothing. All garments worn when working in a rail environment must meet this safety standard. The precise chromaticity co-ordinates for the colour are specified as: fluorescent orange, X:0.588, Y:0.371. with a luminance factor of at least 0.4

Network Rail have also implemented a ‘Full Orange Policy’ therefore all individuals must be fully dressed in high visibility orange.

What products are available?

There are a wide range of products to dress your team from top to toe in high visibility orange workwear including coveralls, jackets, trousers, polo shirts and anti-entanglement pull apart waistcoats. It is important to note that all items must meet the requirements of EN 20471 and RIS-3279-TOM, with fluorescent and reflective areas meeting a minimum of Class 2. Some hi vis orange items are only compliant with EN 20471 and therefore cannot be worn when working on or near a railway.

Popular items include:

Hi Vis Deluxe Bomber Jacket


Pulsar® Rail Spec 7-In-1 Storm Coat


PULSAR® Rail Spec Combat Coverall


PULSAR® Rail Combat Trousers


Hi Vis Rail Short Sleeve Polo 


Hi Vis Three Part Waistcoat


I need arc flash clothing in high visibility orange

Many individuals working on or near a railway are also at risk of an arc flash explosion and therefore require clothing that is both arc flash and RIS-3279-TOM compliant. Remember – high visibility orange clothing is not naturally arc flash compliant. The potential threat from incidents involving arc flash – one of the most serious electrical hazards that can occur in the workplace, can pose situations ranging from a “near miss” to a life changing injury or fatality. Products that fulfil these stringent safety standards include the ProGARM® Men’s and Ladies Arc Flash Hi Vis Coveralls, ProGARM® Men’s and Ladies Arc Flash Long Sleeved Polo Shirt and the ProGARM® Arc Flash Waterproof Salopettes.

Is it possible to apply company branding to RIS-3279-TOM garments?

Of course! All high visibility clothing can be personalised with your company’s branding. Logos must not obscure the reflective bands or the surface area of the hi vis fabric as this can reduce the visibility properties of the clothing and in turn, put the wearer at risk of not being seen by another individual, vehicle or train.

Can I buy sustainable high visibility orange clothing?

Yes, you can dress your team from top to toe in recycled workwear that is high visibility orange in colour. New garments are constantly being introduced by suppliers and all of these items have different sustainability features whether it’s the number of plastic bottles used to make recycled fibres, or the sustainable methods used in manufacturing process. The EcoViz® range from Leo Workwear is made from recycled polyester and conforms to RIS-3279-TOM while Engel’s Safety Light range is made from 50% sustainable REPREVE® polyester.

Popular items include:

Engel Hi Vis Safety Light Jacket


Engel Hi Vis Safety Light Trousers


Engel Hi Vis Safety Light Boilersuit


Swimbridge EcoViz® Hi Vis Long Sleeved Polo


Kingford EcoViz® Stretch Cargo Trouser


Watertown EcoViz® Hi Vis Stretch Coverall


Remember, hi vis garments should be replaced when they are no longer compliant, damaged or every 6-12 months. They usually have a maximum wash lifecycle of approximately 25 washes before the reflective stripes are less visible and the fluorescent fabric loses colour. This will eventually lead to non-compliance. Employees working on the railways, whether that be trackside, nearby or in an arc flash environment are all exposed to serious workplace hazards. They must be appropriately dressed in high visibility clothing that meets the requirements of EN ISO 20471 and RIS-3279-TOM (and EN 61482-2 when arc flash protection is required).