Safety is a top priority for any job site, but safety guidelines can be tricky to navigate for electrical contractors. The rules for general construction don’t always translate to electrical work and we’re committed to bringing clarity to electrical job safety.
In previous articles we covered safety lighting and the importance of quality all-weather attire that will help set you and your teams up for success. Now, we’re talking hi-vis safety.
For Safety, Contrast is Key
So, which is better—yellow or orange? The short answer is, it depends. It’s natural to think that the vibrance of a color is important to consider. In fact, brightness does contribute to visibility (which is the overall goal for preventing accidents and injury) and that’s why most hi-vis apparel comes in one of two neon options, safety yellow and safety orange.
When looking at the two colors alone, yellow is technically the brightest. BUT…that only gets you so far. The brightness of a color won’t matter if it blends in with your work environment. Contrast is the key to visibility.
Yellow tends to be more visible in simple environments and dark-colored backdrops, while orange will stand out more in complex environments, such as natural foliage. Sometimes an electrician’s environment can vary widely, and a more versatile option is needed to ensure visibility. That’s why you’ll notice that many hi-vis apparel designed for electricians come in combination colors—yellow and orange, or yellow and black. The yellow and black combos are the highest contrast and the most effective combination.
Recognition: Orange = Hazard
It’s also important to consider the universal meaning that has been assigned to certain colors. Orange is a standard color for highway construction safety materials, and it’s also the required hi-vis color for deer hunting. Fun fact: deer can’t see the color orange, which makes it the perfect color for staying visible to other hunters in range.
Because of these two mainstream applications, orange symbolizes “hazard” or “caution.” Yellow doesn’t hold quite the same power. Hi-vis orange is the best color choice for when working around moving vehicles and equipment.
- Simple background, dark backdrops
- Suitable for lower-risk environments (without moving vehicles or equipment)
- Complex background
- Ideal for high-risk environments (around moving vehicles and job site equipment)
- Quickly communicates “caution”
Choosing the Right Hi-Vis Apparel for Electrical Work
Color effectiveness and visibility don’t outweigh the importance of material. Most high-visibility apparel is made from synthetic materials and is not suitable for electrical work. ANSI/ISEA (International Safety Equipment Association) has some specific requirements around safety apparel—for ample protection against flash incidents or fire, you’ll need hi-vis apparel that’s made from flame resistant cotton and that features dielectric zippers. Your electrical supplier may be able to help you find the right hi-vis apparel.
When it comes to safety supplies, we’ve got you covered. Connect with your HOLT rep today about your upcoming project.
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