How To Make Sure Your High Vis Work Shirts Are Certified And Compliant

How To Make Sure Your High Vis Work Shirts Are Certified And Compliant

Non-compliance with safety standards at work contributed to over 195 deaths and 85,000 injuries in just 2022. Geez. Every one of those injuries and deaths takes a huge mental health toll on tradies, truckies, rural, and blue collar workers. That’s why we made TradeMutt hi vis work shirts. They’re certified and compliant hi vis work shirts that start conversations about mental health on site.

Non-compliance with safety standards at work contributed to over 195 deaths and 85,000 injuries in just 2022. Geez. Every one of those injuries and deaths takes a huge mental health toll on tradies, truckies, rural, and blue collar workers. That’s why we made TradeMutt hi vis work shirts. They’re certified and compliant hi vis work shirts that start conversations about mental health on site.

After all, certified and compliant hi vis work shirts aren’t just for show. They’re for physical safety. TradeMutt is for mental safety.

This hi vis guide is pretty comprehensive so jump around with this index.

Why do I need to wear hi vis work shirts?

High vis work shirts are designed to be as eye-catching as possible. It’s right there in the name. The easier you are to see, the easier it is to avoid injury — or worse — on busy job sites. Workplaces all around Australia require hi vis work shirts in a range of specifications and colours.

Simply put: high visibility work shirts make you easier to see so you’re easier to avoid. That applies to road accidents, like traffic controllers, and it applies to on-site accidents too like while you’re lifting concrete high into the sky with cranes.

What are the certifications and standards for hi vis work shirts?

Hi vis work shirts aren’t just bright for the sake of being bright. They’re compulsory on many job sites around Australia, especially for the common Australia/New Zealand day/night certification AS/NZS 4602:1999.

Previous standards.

There are a bunch of other standards that feed into the AS/NZS 4602:1999 which we’ll list here for your safety department when you send them this article:

AS/NZS 1906 — Retroreflective materials and devices for road traffic control purposes

AS/NZS 1906.4 — part 4: High visibility materials for safety garments

AS/NZS 1957 — Textiles—Care labelling

AS/NZS 4399 — Sun protective clothing—Evaluation and classification

Garment classifications.

Not all hi vis work shirts are made equal. There are a range of high vis classifications:

Class D.

These work shirts are designed for outdoor daytime use only, as they’re usually only made of fluorescent — or luminant — material that isn’t retroreflective.

Class N.

These work shirts are designed for night-time use only, because they’re usually just standard work shirts with retroreflective elements to keep you safe.

Class D/N.

This hi vis classification is what TradeMutt high vis work shirts are. They’re designed for both day and night use, made from retroreflective elements on a fluorescent high visibility background material.

A quick glossary.

Here are some other terms you’ll want to know:


“Luminant” basically refers to how bright a colour is. For the purposes of high vis compliance, it refers to how “luminant” the orange or yellow fabrics are. To get a little technical, the orange and yellow fabrics in your work shirts are dyed with a pigment to make them brighter and more fluorescent. The luminance of a shirt is just how bright it is — and how likely it is then to keep you safe.


“Retro” means back and “reflective” also means back, sort of, so what does retroreflective mean? “Retroreflective” means that a material shines light back to the same place that the light shining on it came. For example, a reflective material can disperse light all around it when light hits it. But retroreflective materials shine light back the way it came.

Imagine you’re driving at night and your headlights shine on a traffic controller in a yellow high vis work shirt with retroreflective tape. That tape doesn’t just light the person up in general. It shines your headlights back to you so you can see the traffic controller even better.


“Colourfastness” refers to how “colourfast” a particular fabric colour is. Surprising, right? This is basically just a measure of how well the orange or yellow part of your high vis work shirt keeps it colour under a range of real-world tests like UV exposure, frequent washes, and sweat stress tests.

What are the parts of a hi vis work shirt that make it compliant?

Bright fabric colours.

There are a few different certification criteria for the different colours that can be considered high vis. Generally you’ll notice hi vis work shirts have bright colours up with muted blue on the bottom.

Here at TradeMutt, we thought that blue bit down the bottom was pretty boring and, because it’s not strictly necessary to make a shirt hi vis complaint, we replaced it with funky conversation starting prints. They’re still high vis compliant with the required amount of yellow or orange luminant fabric on the top.

The right amount of bright coloured fabric.

For a work shirt to be high vis compliant, it has to have 0.2 square metres of luminant (read: bright) fabric on each side of the garment for 0.4 sqm metres total. Hi vis yellow and hi vis orange are the only compliant colours so those are what you’ll see most and they’re the only hi vis colours we make.

Retroreflective tape.

“Retroreflective” means that the tape shines any light on it back in the direction it came. This means that any source of light can see you in a hi vis work shirt if you can see it. For safety purposes, think torches, floodlights, and ever car headlights.

Durability testing.

To be compliant high vis, a work shirt has to pass a series of colourfastness tests.

Do hi vis work shirts have to yellow or orange?

To be fully compliant for both Day and Day/Night high vis, the top sections of a work shirt must be either yellow or orange. White high vis is only acceptable for Night hi vis certifications.

While you’ll see some blue, pink, and even green high vis work shirts floating around the place, they’re not truly compliant with the AS/NZS 4062:1999 standard.

What are these funky TradeMutt hi vis work shirts?

TradeMutt makes hi vis work shirts in either orange or yellow that start conversations about mental health. These work shirts in orange and yellow meet the current Australian and New Zealand criteria for standard Day/Night hi vis certifications.

They’re also certified conversation starters because of the iconic, ‘This Is A Conversation Starter’ banner embroidered across the back of the shoulders, funky patterns along the bottom of the chest and sleeves, and the TradeMutt QR code under the chest pocket of every work shirt.

That’s why conversation starting hi vis is your best bet — you’ll get compliant high vis to keep you safe plus you’ll know who you can chat to when something’s getting to you.

Doesn't the funky TradeMutt print take away from the hi vis compliance?

Great question legend — it doesn’t!

Hi vis compliance only covers the luminant part of the shirts. That’s the bright yellow or orange part at the top of the shirt plus the retroreflective tape. The navy part of a boring hi vis work shirt isn’t there for certification reasons. So we replaced it.

Our 3M retroreflective tape also meets AS/NSZ 4602.1:2011 compliance. It’s retroreflective of course so it reflects light back to the source plus our high vis tape is 5cm wide, which is the correct width, and its layout on the shirts is complete and unbroken with the hoops around the torso and arms.

Can I wear TradeMutt hi vis anywhere I can wear normal hi vis?

For most of you legends, you sure can.

Our conversation starting hi vis work shirts are as compliant as they can be for most industries.

What they’re not is rail compliant in many states unfortunately as those certifications need a different arrangement of hi vis tape. You’ll be familiar with the X-pattern or the H-pattern depending on where you work. We don’t make these hi vis patterns by default but we can make custom TradeMutt hi vis shirts with rail compliance. Get in touch with our sales team today.

Ask your compliance team if you’re not sure. If they’re not sure either, let them know our work shirts have these certifications:

What are TradeMutt's hi vis work shirts specs?

  • UPF 50+ AS/NZS 4399:2020
  • Day/Night Hi-Visibility
  • Luminance Factor AS/NZS 1906.4:2010 
  • Square Meterage AS/NZS 4602.1:2011

How do I keep my hi vis shirts high vis so they stay compliant?

TradeMutt high vis are built tough so you don’t have to be. But that doesn’t make them immortal. The Australian sun, the dryer, and even the humble washing machine can take a pretty big toll on the luminance of your work shirt. After a while, that makes them unsafe and non-compliant.

Wash them properly.

We have a whole other guide over here on how to best wash your TradeMutt shirt (or any cotton work shirt really) and that includes things like washing them unbuttoned, hanging them onto a coat hanger to dry, and drying them out of direct sunlight. If you love ‘em, don’t put ‘em in the dryer.

This way you can get as many conversations as possible out of your work shirts.

Replace them after 50 washes.

50 washes is the generally accepted point at which hi vis work shirts start to fade out of compliance. That’s not because of anything you could have done different. That’s just the time when the colourfastness on the luminant fabric starts to give. After 50 washes, you wind up with muted yellows and oranges which won’t keep you as safe!

If you wear your TradeMutt hi vis work shirts just for Funky Shirt Fridays, that means you should be replacing them once a year. If you wear them more often than that, you do the math.

Make sure the reflective tape stays on.

Our 3M reflective tape is stitched into the cotton so it wears pretty well but it can come loose if you’re rough with it. If it comes unstuck, it’s no longer compliant unfortunately. If that happens pretty quickly after you’ve bought your shirt, get in touch with us and we’ll sort you out a replacement. If you’ve had it for a while, order a replacement hi vis work shirt.

Shop TradeMutt hi vis conversation starting work shirts.

Cheers for reading this comprehensive guide to hi vis work shirts. Don’t forget to pick up your new TradeMutt hi vis conversation starter from our online store or from one of our many hi vis stockists around Australia!