When people that do not use hi-vis are asked what they know on the subject then answers like, “It’s just for people that work on site” or “Isn’t it just so people see the bin man?” tend to become fairly regular answers.
It would probably surprise them to learn about the rigorous testing and the materials go through and the legal requirements that individual garments have to pass in order to meet current industry standards.
If you really wanted to create confusion then the question of whether they knew there was a difference between summer and winter garments, excluding waterproofs, would possibly result in the statement, “Well I don’t need it so who cares?”
People tend to forget that there are men and women out working in all conditions where hi-vis clothing is a legal requirement of their job. In the UK, winter begins on the last Sunday in October and does not officially end until the last Sunday in March. But even that time frame doesn’t take into account the shortening days as summer comes to a close, or even take into account days where visibility is low because of adverse weather conditions.
In winter hi-vis work wear also needs to provide the wearer with more than just the ability to be easily noticed. In many cases being waterproof is an expected feature, living in Britain even some of the summer-wear is usually waterproof, so having a warm lining or thermal layer can be a primary concern.
Then the actual need of the wearer needs to be considered. Providing lightweight cotton trousers and vest would be ludicrous if the user is working on a rail track in the middle of winter.
A simple, yet with hindsight obvious solution is to ask the teams that will be using the PPE what they need and supply the correct garments as required. Similarly there would be little point in providing a fully lined winter suit to a building inspector when they may spend more time inside a building than out.
Another issue that should be identified is how easy the garments are to clean. If they require specialist cleaning then they are not going to be suitable for use in an environment where there is a risk of becoming covered in dirt every day,
Teams working alongside busy roads are exposed to rapid climate changes and have the disadvantage of a constant stream of traffic expelling exhaust fumes as they pass by.
A simple example of how rapidly an item can become discoloured is the simple hi-vis vest worn by a cyclist. After one week commuting as little as twenty miles per week a hi-vis vest is more dirt than colour. So imagine how quickly a roadside workers clothing will deteriorate.
Winter work wear needs to be easy to clean while providing sufficient protection from the elements, otherwise a day at work would some become a long dark period of discomfort with the risk of severe injury.