Do you want to stand out in a crowd? …probably best not to wear a hi vis vest then!
Hi vis vests are used so that a person wearing one should stick out like a saw thumb in the light of day and turn you into a walking glowstick at night. Generally, a person wearing one of these hi vis vests is not part of the general public and you could be forgiven for approaching them with a problem or seeking information.
Hi vis vests are seen in all different colours such as yellow, orange, green or even pink. There is no hierarchy when it comes to colour, in-fact I find it amusing that a parking attendant can wear the same colour vest as a police officer! …shouldn’t someone look into that? – wouldn’t it be good if only the police officers could wear pink?
Going to the footy …
Let’s say you’re going to the footy match with your granny to watch Spurs get hammered by West Ham in the FA cup final. Alright then, that is unlikely! …I meant your Grandad. Do you think you can get from your car to the stadium without passing by a couple of hundred people wearing hi vis vests? Why is every worker subject to wearing something that shouts, ‘hey look at me, I’m here and you must notice me!’.
These days, if I was to go up to someone wearing hi vis and ask a question like “what entrance do I need to go to” the cleaner isn’t sure and points me to another crowd of staff workers all wearing these hi vis vests, but when I get to them, they try to take all my belongings and tell me that my carrier bag is too big and I need to throw it in the bin for security purposes. As if I would carry my AKA-47 in a carrier bag. Apparently, my bag can be no bigger than A4 in size! …can I borrow that ruler Grandad!
Back in time …
Go back 20 years and you’d rarely see hi vis jackets unless you were in a building zone or worn by highway workers, I don’t believe even the police used to wear them, in fact they would be dressed in navy blue (I’m not sure on that!!) but these days, they are everywhere. They don’t irritate me, but they used to mean a whole lot more than they do now giving that person a sense of authority.
By law some companies have enforced workers to wear these vests and it is totally understandable as they do save many lives and are necessary to help stand apart from everyone around you, but once I called a plumber (my toilet overflowing with raw sewage) and after a few hours he showed up wearing a hi vis jacket. I had to ask him, why do you wear that jacket? and he said that it was company policy and all hi vis jackets are mandatory!
Because they care …
I guess it is nice to know that most reputable business are thinking about the welfare of their workers, but could there be another reason why? I have no doubt that all good reputable companies do care about their workers and that they want them to be safe, but I also think that they have ulterior motives.
If the plumber had managed to hurt himself so bad that he was no longer able work and he wasn’t wearing a “mandatory” hi vis jacket, would the plumber not be entitled to claim insurance? I see these jackets on workers that you wouldn’t think needed to stand out. Even the guy who installed my cable tv was wearing one and once again he said it was company policy! …it was also company to walk mud in across my living room floor!!
Playing Safe ..
Companies like to play it safe and think that if they have workers that are out on the field then they should be highly visible. If anything was to go bad for the worker, the company will need to make a claim to their insurance company, and you get bet the first question from the insurance company would be “was they wearing safety clothing?”. We know that the jacket in most cases wouldn’t make a difference, but you can bet that the insurance company will look for any excuse not to pay out the full amount that would normally be due.
There was an incident back in 2013, not a business but a thirteen-year-old girl (Bethany Probert) who was in a terrible car accident that left her with brain damage. She was awarded £5m but the insurance company (Churchill insurance) argued that she contributed to the event by failing to wear a hi-vis and the family of the child had to accept a lower pay-out. The insurance company were trying to make a savings with a young teenage girl so you can imagine what sympathy these insurers have with businesses.
After knowing this you can understand why businesses try to cover themselves from all angles as an insurance company not paying out on a claim can leave a business in jeopardy.
A reputable company imposes a responsibility to the employer to ensure safety at work for all their employees, and failure to ensure safe working practices could also lead to an employee suing for personal injury or in some cases the employer being prosecuted for corporate manslaughter.
Going back to the case with Bethany Porbert are we to understand that had she been wearing a hi vis jacket she would have received the full claim. This leads me to believe that we will all be better off with hi vis jackets all the time and then of course everyone will stand out in a crowd.