When you need to be seen - hi-vis on safety helmets

Scott Safety
Wednesday, 14 August, 2013

The importance of protecting employees and providing a safe work environment has seen an increase in the use of reflective and high-visibility tapes. Whether it is on work clothing or personal protective equipment (PPE), it is a common requirement and practice to use high-vis tape to improve the visibility of workers, particularly if they are working in low-light areas at night.

The use of high-visibility tape on industrial safety helmets is widespread and helps to further improve personal safety; however, it is important to note that the correct tape and configuration must be selected.

The working environment, hazards and lighting conditions all play a major role in the selection process of high-visibility tape for safety helmets. For example, employees who wear an industrial safety helmet in varying light conditions may require an adhered tape that is highly visible during the day and capable of reflecting artificial light, such as vehicle headlights, in dull or night conditions. (Reference document AS/NZS1801:1997 clause 3.2.5.)

There are a number of different safety helmet tapes available and they are generally cut and shaped into various kit designs. The recommended width of the tape should be at least 25 mm with an overall area sufficient to enhance personal protection. They must be adhered to the safety helmet in an integral manner and must not impact on the performance of the headwear.

The main types of adhesive tape available are:

  • Retro reflective (Night) - These tapes are commonly used when working in dull or night conditions and reflect light.
  • Retro reflective/fluorescent (Day/Night) - These are combination performance tapes that provide high visual capabilities during the day and reflect light during the night.

It is common to see the above tapes used on safety helmets in industries such as mining, transport, construction, forestry and oil and gas.

Having the tapes applied by the safety helmet manufacturer will ensure that it is compatible, professionally adhered and meet any required regulatory performance requirements. Different types of tape are available in shapes that have been designed to: fit the contour of safety helmet shell, avoid any helmet accessories that may be fitted and provide clear visibility in day/night conditions.

Safety helmets fitted with reflective tape have the advantage of improved visibility, making it easier to see where people are working, particularly in low light areas at night. The tapes used by Scott Safety have been extensively tested to ensure that the adhesive is fully compatible with the ABS and Polycarbonate Protector brand safety helmets. The RT 1 Reflective silver retroreflective can be used for increased wearer visibility in areas where moving vehicles and headlights are present. The RT 2 Reflective prismatic silver tape provides visibility regardless of the angle. RT 4 Reflective in white, yellow or red is designed for extreme environments such as forestry and the 29/30/31 Reflective configuration is designed for visibility regardless of the angle and is suitable for use in mining environments.

The different shapes and patterns of the tapes have been designed to fit the helmets and enhance the daytime and night-time visibility of the user. Most patterns have been designed to also fit around safety helmet accessories such as lamp brackets and company logos. The Scott Safety reflective tapes are certified to AS/NZS 1906.1.

It is also important to regularly inspect the tape to ensure: adhesion is maintained, no damage has occurred and the tape performs as it should. This inspection process also assists with the maintenance of the safety helmet itself. This simple inspection should be carried out prior to every use. If any degradation to tape or safety helmet is evident, it should be withdrawn from service and replaced.

In conjunction with reflective clothing, safety helmets complete with day/night tape are designed to maximise worker safety.

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