What is hi-vis clothing?

Hi-vis clothing is an important part of workplace safety in many jobs. In fact, it is a requirement for many worksites. Fortunately, clothing that meets high visibility requirements are marked and easy to find. So what makes these clothing hi-vis and what is the difference between these ratings?

Hi-vis clothing requirements

The requirements for hi-vis clothing are updated regularly. As more information and data becomes available about what makes something effective as high visiiblity, the standards are updated.

The full list of standards is quite comprehensive. We’ll cover some general guidelines in this article. If you want to see the full requirements, you can find them by creating a free account at Standards New Zealand. NZTA have their own additional guidelines for hi-vis on their Fact Sheet.


There’s a reason you see a lot of workers in orange or yellow vests. Orange and fluorescent yellow are easily noticeable and are the only two colours in NZ that count as hi-vis. These colours have been shown to be the most noticeable and stand out best.

Reflective Strips

Reflective strips are an important part of hi-vis clothing, especially for night clothes. If you’ve seen silver strips on clothes, it’s because those strips reflect even small amounts of light. The strips have to placed at specific points to be effective.

Hi-Vis clothing classifications

There are 3 different kinds of hi-vis clothing in New Zealand: Day only (D), Night Only (N), or Day/Night (D/N).

Hi-vis day only

Day only means that the item meets all hi-vis standards during daylight hours and is classified with a D rating. Orange or yellow vests are the most common type of hi-vis daylight clothing. While these colours are noticeable during the day, at night they still aren’t visible in some conditions. This makes them ideal for daytime work but nights have different requirements.

Hi-vis night only

At night, the colour isn’t too important since you can’t see it easily. Instead, the reflective strips are more important. Night clothing requires additional reflective tape of a minimum width. Since there is still some light during nighttime, these strips are still effective at helping the wearer be more visible. These clothes are classified with an N rating.

Hi-vis day/night

A D/N rating means the item is appropriate for both day and night. Put simply, D/N clothes meet both classifications above. At least part of them will be orange or yellow, and they also have reflective strips. This type is ideal for jobs that start during the day but might go into night hours.

How do I find the right hi-vis clothing?

Just because something is a certain colour doesn’t mean it’s hi-vis. High-visibility clothes must tell you their classification in some way. You’ll find the classification on a tag either with the care instructions or attached separately. If you’re looking for hi-vis clothes, make sure it has the rating!

At Safety1st, we have hi-vis clothes in-store and online. We have several options available including jackets, shirts, overalls, and much more, check out our hi-vis range now!