Information about EN ISO 20471 certification for high visibility workwear

Today, in more and more industries, employees need to wear safety workwear. In particular, this applies to industries where a large part of the work takes place near traffic, cranes and other motorised vehicles, as well as work that takes place in the dark. And it is a good investment.

EN ISO 20471 certified safety workwear keeps employees safe while they concentrate on work. The employees will be visible at night, during the day, and from all angles, including from the rear where it is impossible for them to see. With the right EN ISO 20471 safety workwear, neither reflectors nor the fluorescent material will be hidden by blind angles.

The 3 Components of Hi-Vis Clothing

EN ISO 20471 sets out the high-visibility clothing regulations for the design and performance of each element of a garment. There are usually three main components:

1. The fluorescent material
This boosts visibility during daylight hours and can also increase visibility at night.

2. The reflective strips
These are designed to enhance visibility during the darker hours of the day. Reflective strips require a light source to work and create retro-reflection. They are essential for those working at night.

There are different types of high-visibility angle strips, the most common being “glass beads reflective”. These need to be carefully maintained to ensure the garment remains fit for purpose and fully compliant. The standard stipulates that a CE marked and certified garment should have reflective strips around the legs and sleeves, so be sure to consider this when selecting hi-vis long-sleeved garments, jackets (such as bomber jackets and hi-vis fleeces) and hi-vis work trousers.

3. The contrast material
Some hi-vis clothing is designed with darker-coloured parts that are less sensitive to dirt than the fluorescent material and reflective strips, without which the functionality would diminish. The areas covered with the contrast fabric tend to be where dirt is most likely to build up — for example, the sleeve ends and across the abdomen on hi-vis fleeces and jackets, and the ankle and knee sections of hi-vis work trousers and waterproof trousers.

Key Requirements of EN ISO 20471 High-Visibility Clothing

The standard covers the requirements for the base fabric colour, minimum areas for reflectivity and placement of tape for high-visibility clothing.

The requirements for the minimum area of reflective material (detailed in the table below) may restrict the ability to adjust garments. For example, shortening trousers might reduce the area of fluorescent material too much. This also means that hi-vis trousers shouldn't be tucked into safety boots, as the garment may no longer comply with the standard. The same goes for wearing any clothing that obscures or covers the fluorescent material, such as wearing a non-hi-vis jacket over a hi-vis vest.

Three colours of material are approved in the hi-vis standards; fluorescent yellow, orange and red. In addition to the surface area of each material, there are requirements for the material’s performance, as well as the degree of reflection from the reflective strips. Physical properties including tensile strength, thermal resistance and dimensional stability are also covered by the standard. These requirements ensure that all hi-vis garments are suitable for a range of working conditions where there is a high risk.

There are strict requirements on the amount of “bleeding” between the reflective strips and the fluorescent and contrast materials. “Bleeding” refers to residues of colour within the material that can stain the sensitive parts of hi-vis garments. As the fluorescent material is always a bright colour, it can be affected by the darker colour of the contrast material. EN ISO 20471 stipulates the tolerated level of bleeding to ensure the fluorescence remains effective.

Although branded or personalised PPE and hi-vis is a great way of promoting and distinguishing your company on site, employers should take care when adding logos to hi-vis workwear. Areas of background or retro-reflective material that are covered by branding will be excluded from the calculation of the required minimum area. Where possible, use reflective logo transfers, or try to place branding on the contrast material so visibility is not impacted and hi-vis safety standards are maintained.


EN ISO 20471 is an international standard that imposes requirements on visible workwear for employees in high-risk areas. Using the right safety workwear is important and must be prioritised. Even if working in areas where visibility is important only takes place during a short part of the working day. EN ISO 20471 is divided into three classes, in accordance to the risk zone you work in and to how well the product is able to protect the employee. It is the visibility requirement – and thus the requirement for the area consisting of reflectors and fluorescent materials – that determines which class you need to choose. In all products, the reflecting ability of all reflectors fulfils what previously corresponded to class 2.

Minimum areas of visible material in m²

Class 3 Class 2 Class 1
Reflective Tape 0,20 m² 0,13 m² 0,10 m²
Fluorescent material 0,80 m² 0,50 m² 0,14 m²


Class 1 high-visibility clothing can be used in situations with a low risk of collisions and accidents. Class 1 high- visibility clothing is not suitable for work on public roads, but is suitable for work in full or partial daylight within a company’s premises. Maximum traffic speed 30 km/h.


Class 2 work clothing provides good visibility for roadworks, courier services and twilight work. Class 2 high- visibility clothing is suitable for work on public roads with a maximum traffic speed of 50 km/h.


Class 3 high-visibility clothing is mandatory when working in the dark. Visible at traffic speeds up to 90 km/h. This optimum visibility greatly reduces the risk of accidents.


The highest class is class 3. There are two ways to attain class 3 at Pesso Nordic . Either choose an EN ISO 20471 product that is rated class 3 on its own (e.g. a jacket) or choose two products that together are class 3 certified. Pesso Nordic has had approved a unique and simple letter system, which makes it easier to understand the various classes and provides an overview of the different combination options for attaining class 3 clothing. The system is approved by the certification institute, and it eliminates uncertainty. This way, employees always have the right safety class. The combination options for EN ISO 20471 safety workwear can also be found on the label, on the washing instructions and in the user information on the clothes.




High-visibility clothing is available in three different colors:

  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Red

What Is EN ISO 20471 High-Visibility Clothing?

ISO 20471:2013 High-Visibility Clothing is an international standard for the safety requirements and test methods of hi-vis workwear, and is applicable to high-risk situations. It specifies requirements for “high visibility clothing which is capable of visually signalling the user's presence” and assesses the suitability and durability of retro-reflective materials.

EN ISO 20471 was released in 2013, replacing EN 471:2003 A1:2007. As certificates are only valid for five years, this means that the last garments made to EN471 certification are no longer compliant. If you haven’t updated your workers’ high-visibility clothing recently, it’s likely that you are not operating in compliance with EN ISO 20471, so now is the time to order replacements. Any new hi-vis workwear garments made after 2013 must be CE marked and designed to comply with the new standard.

Just as in EN471, the requirements for background materials, retroreflective materials and combined performance materials are categorised into three classes. There are some important differences to note, which we will cover later in the article.

The main differences between EN ISO 20471 and EN 471:
  • When this standard was revised, a number of safety requirements were tightened.
  • The fabric is tested for color fastness both when new and after at least 5 washes.
  • Class 3 garments can only be certified if the upper body is provided with reflective bands and fluorescent fabric, including the sleeves and/or legs. The instructions for incorporating these materials have been adjusted. They now indicate where and how the materials should be used in the garment, where complete encircling of the torso, arms and legs ensures increased visibility from all angles. The distribution of these materials over the front and back of the clothing is 50/50, with a maximum deviation of 10%.
  • The strict requirements which fluorescent material or reflective material had to meet in the old standard regarding, for example, colorfastness, reflection, luminance, color fastness to perspiration, tear resistance and strength, now also apply to the contrast material.
  • The icons used for standardization have been modified.


Companies often want their logo printed on work clothing. High-visibility work clothing must meet strict requirements, so putting a logo on reflective clothing is subject to rules. With our expertise, we can help you in this process, so that your company meets all the requirements without sacrificing appearance.


Clothing covered by this standard requires special maintenance. It must be cleaned (washed and dried) professionally, otherwise the quality of the clothing and reflective capacities may suffer.


Pesso  is work clothing for every professional. And that also means High Visibility workwear for every professional. Pesso clothing that meets the highest technical requirements and aims to offer optimal protection against risks from the work environment.