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Retroreflective Materials

Retroreflective Materials on Working Cloths Application Guidelines


These recommendations are developed on the basis of the Standard EN N471 from 1994 "Signal Clothing" published by the European Committee for Standardization (CEN).

In European countries, legislative regulations concerning the design and the use of the signal clothing have essential distinctions. To overcome these distinctions, the all-European Standard was developed that determines the characteristics of the signal materials for the manufacturing of the working clothing, their minimum effective area and placing on products.

Standard EN N471 was adopted by member countries of CEN who, according to the existing agreements, are committed to accept it without any alterations as the State Standard and to annul all contradicting state standards adopted earlier. CEN includes state standardization institutions of Austria, Belgium, UK, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Ireland, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Finland, France, Sweden and Switzerland.

This Standard has for an object to ensure the compliance of the clothing signal properties with the requirements that are specified in the guidelines EEC N89/686 "Personal Protective Equipment" and N89/656 "Use of Personal Protective Equipment". If the European Standard is adopted as the Agreed Standard, in whereof a record in the EEC Official Registry should be made, all products complying with its requirements are deemed as products complying with the main requirements of the appropriate guidelines.

Mainly, Standard EN N471 includes working clothing, and other types of clothing falling under the effect of a separate European Standard that is being developed now. Although this Standard doesn’t directly indicate the field of application of the described clothing, in the first place, it means road works and similar types of work where workers should be noticed by the drivers in advance, in particular, if the latter are driving vehicles that need longer time for braking and maneuvering.

The Standard stipulates three classes of the signal clothing depending on the effective area of the attached signal elements. The exact area of such elements is determined by the clothing type and size, but it should be noted that Class 3 Clothing guarantees bigger contrast then Class 2 Clothing that, in its turn, excels Class 1 Clothing.

Optical characteristics of the elements, according to the Standard, give significant signal capabilities to the clothing, practically, in any conditions, urban or rural. But even in these conditions, there are situations when the contrast of these elements is not enough to distinguish a worker from the background, so the workers should remember it. Moreover, in some cases – mines, pits, reservoirs and some industrial objects – an insufficient contrast provided by the clothing is an everyday occurrence that needs to be taken into account when purchasing clothing.


Clothing Types and Classes.

Signal clothing is divided into three classes, for which there are minimum areas of the clothing’s retroreflective elements as indicated in Chart 1.

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