AS/NZS 1906.4:2010

Retroreflective materials and devices for road traffic control purposes -
Part 4: High-visibility materials for safety garments

High-visibility workwear is a trusted safety tool onsite. High-visibility fabrics and retroreflective materials are essential for a safety garment, as stipulated by standard AS/NZS 4602.1:2011, which benchmarks the safety requirements for a workwear garment in its entirety. AS/NZS 1906.4:2010 states that high-visibility workwear is comprised of two categories of materials; high-visibility fabrics and retroreflective materials. These materials have different properties that create strong optical effects when responding to either natural or generated light sources. They are both uniquely essential for providing visibility in particular environmental conditions and times of the day.
What is more important than claiming your product meets the latest standard is that your product is certified to that standard.

Testing Methods

The AS/NZS 1906.4:2010 standard aims to confirm a fabrics' visibility with a 'daytime colour and luminance factor test' that compares the fabrics' properties against the standards benchmark results. It does so by assessing the levels of the following fabric properties and additional durability testing as below:

Fabric Properties

Chromaticity - Quality of colour independent of brightness
Photometric - Perception of light in terms of brightness or luminescence
Colormetric - Concentration of a chemical compound responsible for colour and other physical property requirements

Durability Testing

Colourfastness after UV exposure
Colourfastness to washing test
Colourfastness to perspiration test

Material Types

Retroreflective Material

Retroreflective material reflects light directly back to its source, a valuable property when conducting night works. In the absence of daylight, workers rely on artificial light sources like torches and car headlights to see their environment. Retroreflective materials will return the light from these artificial light sources back to the viewer.

High-Visibility Fabrics

High-visibility fabric reflects the sunlight and appears brightest during the day. It can be either fluorescent like the bright glowing yellow of a micromesh polo shirt or non-fluorescent like the richer yellow of a cotton drill shirt - this is dependent on the garments fibres.

Class F - High Daytime Visibility Fluorescent Material

Class F garments are the most common class.
This class consists of garments with high-visibility fabric. The high-visibility fabric is woven or knitted out of natural or man-made fibres dependent on a particular high-visibility colour range. The standard specifies the use of specific colour spaces of yellow, orange and orange/red. Fabric fibres that meet Class F are manipulated to retain more fluorescent dye for a longer duration than natural fibres.
Wet weather garments can achieve a Class F (W) where the material passes an optional wet weather test along with the Class F classification.

Class NF - High Daytime Visibility Non-Fluorescent Material

Class NF is given to fabrics - typically made from natural fibres - which have a lower chromaticity level due to the nature of the material. Natural fibres tend to be highly breathable, and for this reason, many prefer their use to combat humid conditions and extensive sun exposure. Natural fibre garments tend to have reduced colour retention properties when they undergo prolonged exposure to UV rays.
It is especially important for natural fibre garments to be labeled with the NF classification as they must be properly inspected regularly for colour fading.

Class R - Retroreflective Material

Class R Retroreflective material is applied to workwear garments in the form of reflective tape. This material reflects beams of artificial light sources - such as car headlights - directly back to the viewer. This fabric type is essential for night-time garments.

Class RF - Combined Performance of Class R and Class F

Class RF garments combine retroreflective and fluorescent fabrics in their construction.
They are garments with reflective tape that meets Class R and Class F meaning, not only does it reflect light back to its source but it also achieves a high visibility rating, similar to a cotton drill shirt. Reflective tape on these garments must fall into the specific colour spaces of yellow, orange and orange/red.