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Right High-Visibility Color for the Right Job: How to Choose the Right Colors for Your Working Environment

If you work in a field where safety is vital, such as construction or transportation, then you know that wearing high-visibility clothes can mean the difference between life and death. It's there to help keep you safe from harm by warning others of your presence so they can avoid hitting you with heavy machinery or vehicles.

However, if you don't choose the right colored clothing for your environment and working conditions, this safety measure won't be effective! Let's take a look at how one should select their high-visibility gear based on their job role:

Site supervisor wearing yellow hi-viz vest

Consult the ANSI/ISEA 107 standards for your high-visibility clothing.

  • ANSI/ISEA-107 outlines the minimum reflective qualities and colors allowed for high-visibility apparel, ensuring your safety in the work environment.

  • This standard is necessary because it outline what fabrics make the best high-visibility clothes and how they should be combined with other features, such as reflective strips, to create an overall practical garment.

  • It's important to remember that these standards apply only to garments worn by workers who are required to wear high-visibility apparel in their workplace, such as construction workers or roadside flaggers. If you fall into this category, you can use these guidelines when choosing which garments will work best for your needs.

    Science Behind the Colors

    When it comes to ensuring the safety and visibility of workers in hazardous environments, the science behind the selection of high-visibility colors is critical. These colors, including neon yellow, safety orange, and safety green, are designed to provide maximum visibility in various work conditions.

    The bright nature of these colors makes them stand out against most backgrounds, particularly in low light or against the natural landscape, making them an essential component of safety equipment.

    Fluorescent colors like fluorescent orange and neon yellow are particularly effective because they absorb and emit light, making them visible in the early morning or late evening when light conditions are not optimal.

    These colors are not just random choices but are selected based on their visibility spectrum, ensuring that workers are easily seen by others, thereby reducing the risk of accidents involving physical hazards.

    Compliance Standards

    Adhering to compliance standards set by authoritative bodies like the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is paramount in occupational safety. The ANSI/ISEA 107 standard specifies the design, performance specifications, and use of high-visibility safety apparel.

    By following these guidelines, employers can ensure that their workers are equipped with the necessary fire protection equipment and safety gear that meet the required visibility levels to protect against fire hazards and other risks.

    These standards dictate the use of safety colors in various industries to signal different types of hazards. For instance, green signs indicate safety equipment locations, while blue signs provide safety information.

    Yellow signs warn of physical hazards, and orange signs are used to denote dangerous parts of machinery or equipment. In environments with radiation hazards, specific colors and symbols are used to warn and protect workers.



    Fluorescent yellow-green is the most common color for high-visibility clothing in the manufacturing industry. Fluorescent yellow is often paired with other bright colors like orange or red to stand out from the rest of the environment while still being visible enough to avoid accidents or injuries.

    Construction Sites

    The most common color for construction sites is fluorescent yellow-green. However, it is common to see orange as well. These colors best suit urban environments where you will work around many dark colors such as blacks, grays, and browns.

    While fluorescent yellow-green is an excellent choice in a dark urban environment, it's not ideal if you work outdoors on grassy or green surfaces such as parks or fields where the green can blend in. It would not be wise to wear fluorescent red while working around a brick building. When choosing high-visibility apparel, you always want to keep your background in mind.

    Railroads and Trucking

    If you work in the railroad or trucking industries, fluorescent yellow-green is the most common color to wear. It is also the safest option because it contrasts with dark objects such as road signs, trucks, and rail cars.

    Fluorescent red or orange is not recommended for this work because those colors are associated with warning signs, cones, and other cautionary devices.

    Road Construction

    Road construction is a vital industry, so it's essential to make sure you wear the proper high-visibility clothing. Fluorescent yellow-green is an excellent choice because it stands out well against the roadway. It will be evident from far away that you are working in an active construction zone.

    There may be better choices than orange and red, as drivers may associate the colors with signs and barriers.

    safety signs

    Snow and Ice, Night Work

    When it comes to snow and ice, fluorescent red is one of the best colors for being seen in low-visibility situations. It is so effective that Europe has already been using fluorescent red for years. Fluorescent colors are designed to draw our attention very quickly, which is precisely what you need when working in a snowstorm or at night.

    However, you should pair another high-vis color with your fluorescent red—the more visible you are, the better!


    As a firefighter, you need to be seen to save lives. While it's evident that firefighters need to wear yellow-green gear while working in high-traffic areas, black can sometimes be used if you're working at a low-traffic scene.

    If you work at an acceptable workplace where such attire is permitted, black hi-viz may even be considered the best option because it does not stand out and provides adequate safety when needed most!


    We've discussed the different types of high-visibility work clothing and what to look for when choosing your own. Now, you should be ready to go out into the world and find your perfect gear! Once again, remember that safety is essential no matter what kind of work you do or how much time you spend in your work environment. We hope this guide keeps you safe while doing what you love: working hard and looking good doing it!



    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Q: Is pink a high-visibility color?

    A: While pink is bright and can be easily noticed, it is not officially recognized as a high-visibility color under ANSI standards. The most effective high-visibility colors are neon yellow, safety orange, and safety green because they ensure maximum visibility in most work environments.

    Q: What color is better for high visibility?

    A: The choice of color for high visibility depends on the work environment. Neon yellow (safety yellow) and fluorescent orange (safety orange) are widely recognized for their effectiveness in ensuring maximum visibility. Neon yellow is particularly useful in urban and industrial settings, while fluorescent orange is preferred in areas with high levels of machinery and equipment due to its contrast against mechanical components.

    Q: Why do construction workers wear neon?

    A: Construction workers wear neon colors, especially neon yellow (safety yellow) and fluorescent orange (safety orange), to ensure they are highly visible on the job site. These colors stand out against the typical backgrounds found in construction areas, such as earth tones and urban landscapes, significantly reducing the risk of accidents by alerting drivers and machine operators to their presence.

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