What You Should Know About the Science Behind Reflective Gear

safety clothes

Fashion can be an odd and sometimes questionable facet of society, especially for those who just don’t get it. At the New York Fashion show just two weeks ago, a Calvin Klein model walked the runway in various renditions of…safety clothes. How that is considered fashion is better left to the industry professionals, but designer Raf Simmons decided it was the perfect platform to express the importance of safety.

While safety clothes and gear are important (and apparently fashionable), it’s probably more important to understand how they work and what you can do to optimize their effectiveness.

Types of Reflective Materials
There are primarily two different types of reflective material that can be found on most safety wear.

  • Micro-Prismatic: This type of reflective gear is actually quite complex and highly effective. A carefully laid out assemblage of tiny reflective prisms are sealed inside a sheet of specialized plastic vinyl. Light passes through the transparent sheet of plastic and hits one side of a prism. It then bounces across to another prism and then back at the source (making a triangle of sorts). This is considered retro-reflective because it focuses the light directly back at the source instead of refracting it to multiple spots.
  • Glass Bead: Commonly found on most safety workwear such as high visibility jackets and vests worn by construction and roadside workers. The tape consists of a multitude of small reflective beads that bounce the light in various directions. This is a popular option because it’s effective, but costs less to make than micro-prism tape, which makes sense when you think about how a construction worker or laborer can walk more than 30,000 steps a day (three times the amount of the average person). So, they probably go through a lot of vests.

Both of these are extremely viable options for increasing visibility, but they have a small downfall: they need light to work. Reflective gear is only effective if there is a light source to reflect, such as car headlights, which for the purposes of many wearers is an adequate source. However, let’s say you’re walking down the side of the road wearing a hi vis hoodie. If a car pulls out adjacent to the road, the lights aren’t hitting the reflective tape and therefore are not reflecting any light back to the driver. They might not see you as they pull onto the road until it’s too late. Wearing neon or bright colors can help make sure you’re seen as well.

When choosing which safety gear to buy — and you definitely should buy safety clothes — make educated decisions based upon how well they’ll perform rather than how they’ll look on a runway.

You’re Hired! Common Sensical Safety Philosophies for New Employees

safety shirts

It’s not shocking to know that injuries happen most under unfamiliar conditions. The last blog post looked into avoidable injuries caused by being too comfortable with your work environment and growing complacent. We’re going to look at what causes the most problems when you’ve just gotten that new job.

A study in Canada showed that freshly hired employees have over three times the risk of sustaining an injury in their first month on the job. Why is this risk so high? We’ve got some ideas that’ll help keep you sharp and safe from the get-go.

You’ve just been hired and are about to start your first day. Now isn’t the time to be prideful, but to watch, listen, and learn. There’s a training period because you don’t know what you’re doing yet. Yes, you were hired for your experience and skill set, but you didn’t have that experience in this new environment, so you must learn new terrain both conceptually and literally. Pride has no place in the learning process.

It’s tough to check pride at the door, but it’s not your job to impress people. Yes, it’s a natural human drive to want to look good for others, but it’s even better to do a job well than with a watch what I can do attitude. Focus your energy on the work, not on observing peoples’ reactions to your work. Remember that you work with a team, so fight the temptation to do things alone. Ask for help. Injury most commonly happens when individuals try to be a one-person team when jobs are meant to be done together.

On top of seeking validation is the penchant to overwork yourself with the goal of looking highly productive. Strain, burnout, and diminished work quality are all results of this perceived image booster. Speaking of image, safety shirts, reflective vests, workwear, and the many different types of safety clothing are there to keep you safe, seen, warm, etc. Start on the right foot by not neglecting these items, they serve an important purpose.

Starting a new job can be intimidating. When you’re joining a new team, make a concerted effort to banish pride, listen and learn, and actively be a part of your workplace microcosm, from wearing your safety shirts to training to happy hour. A threefold cord is not easily broken, so it is concerning keeping safe in a new job. Many hands make light and safe work.