Changing the face of the high-vis industry

Louise Pattison of Tarmac models the new Maternity range

High-visibility clothing has been around for nearly 100 years. In this day and age, providers of such garments should consider the needs of the wearers. P&P editor Melanie Attlesey speaks to Nick Bale, marketing development manager at Leo Workwear, about four new products that have joined the collection in recent months.

The origin of high-visibility clothing dates back to the 1930s when American Bob Switzer was injured in a workplace accident. During his recovery, he invented a neon-coloured paint by mixing fluorescent minerals with wood varnish. He tested out his new paint, which he called Day-Glo, on his wife’s wedding dress, and it took off from there.

The military soon took notice and during World War II, fluorescent panels were used to send signals from the ground up to planes, crews on aircraft carriers wore fluorescent fabric to distinguish where planes should land, and buoys were painted with it to denote which areas had been cleared of mines.

And now fast-forward to 2019, this spring has seen Leo Workwear add several transformative products to its high-vis collection; a new Maternity range and the Lilly Modesty Tunic for women, along with the Heddon and Foreland waistcoats, which have been designed with a pocket specifically for storing a tablet.

Maternity range

A rise in women working in environments requiring high-visibility clothing and the problems ill-fitting garments cause pregnant women, led to Leo Workwear designing the Maternity range. The range enables women to continue their job role into pregnancy and ensures they are wearing fitted clothing that conforms to the relevant standard, ISO 20471.

“Until now, a pregnant woman whose job role involved being on a construction site, near the rail or road, has either been refused access or had to wear oversized men’s products to ensure they conform to high visibility standards,” explains Nick. “These ill-fitting garments are potentially hazardous in a working environment and so puts a pregnant woman at further risk.”

The range consists of the Lovacott Maternity Polo Shirt, which features elastication on the sides to allow a bump to grow while providing high-visibility protection to ISO 20471 Class 2 and the Verity Maternity Cargo Trouser, which features an elasticated over-the-bump band to provide ISO 20471 Class 2 protection for high-visibility.

Nick adds: “These products have been based on our already very successful women’s range, using some of the best branded components, innovative fabrics and the latest reflective tape technology to offer what wearers expect from Leo Workwear products; comfortable and hard-wearing products that keep them visible.  And they are all about enabling women to do their job and taking away potential safety issues that they may face in their day-to-day roles.”

Back in April, Tarmac, a provider of sustainable construction solutions, became one of the first companies in the UK to provide expectant mothers with specialist high-vis maternity clothing.

Tarmac’s senior vice president, Martin Riley, said: “We’re proud to be leading the way in introducing high visibility maternity PPE for expectant mothers. This pioneering initiative supports our aim of creating a more inclusive workforce and to work in an environment where all of our employees can be safe and remain healthy.”

Expectant mother Louise Pattison, who works for Tarmac’s Cement and Lime business in Barnstone, Nottingham, added: “Prior to finding a supplier it was usual for expectant mothers needing PPE for their work to wear oversized male protective clothing and make alterations so I’m delighted to be one of the first people at Tarmac to have the opportunity to wear PPE that is specially made for pregnant women.”

The Lilly Modesty Tunic

Lilly Modesty Tunic

After working on some of the biggest current infrastructure projects in the UK, it soon became apparent that there was a requirement for ladies who wanted appropriate PPE that kept them safe without compromising their beliefs.

And so the Lilly Modesty Tunic was born. This full sleeved high-vis modesty tunic offers protection to women that work in environments where high-visibility clothing is a necessity but want to adhere to their religious beliefs. It is also a really good solution for any woman who requires a longer top conforming to ISO 20471 Class 3.

“These garments are all about enabling women to do their job and taking away potential safety issues that they may face in their day-to-day roles,” explains Nick.

The Foreland

Heddon and Foreland

As technology is used more and more in industries where high-visibility clothing is required, the need to have our devices close at hand has greatly increased. So what more could on-site workers want than a waistcoat that enables the wearer to have their device close by but also safely stowed away?

The large pocket on the Heddon and the Foreland is zip fastened and reinforced for strength and comes with a headphones eyelet so wearers can listen to their device easily if required.

The Foreland Sleeveless version conforms to ISO 20471 Class 2, while the Heddon Sleeved Waistcoat provides the highest class of protection, ISO 20471 Class 3.

Leo Workwear’s collection demonstrates that high-visibility clothing goes way beyond the average hi-vis vest and items such as these should be considered when offering high-visibility options to your customers.

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