The personal protective equipment for the forestry industry, aka PPE Forestry, is now becoming even safer. Drawing on the results of a major study, a new standard governing work clothing will come into force on 1 May 2016; high visibility orange will be changing to bright pink. Millions of foresters and forestry workers are now facing a race against time to equip themselves for the new standard.
High-visibility safety clothing is a must
Special protective equipment is mandatory for everyone engaged in forestry work. A safety helmet with protection for the ears and face, work gloves, cut-protection trousers and cut-protection gloves all play a key role in ensuring personal safety. A work jacket with segments in a high visibility colour is important for ensuring the wearer can still be seen even over larger distances. But a note of caution: this protective equipment is still mandatory even for people who just cut their own firewood.
In order to guarantee uniform product quality, all protective clothing manufacturers have to comply with the relevant EU standards. EN 381, for example, lays out the protective clothing requirements for people working with chainsaws, while EN 471 defines how high visibility clothing is to be designed.
Study: pink is the most effective high visibility colour
Over the years, the effectiveness of high visibility orange, the colour used until now, has been questioned time and again by industry experts. Professionals from northern Europe have complained that clothing with segments of high visibility orange, sometimes also in combination with green, is not sufficiently conspicuous in autumnal forests. For this reason the EU Commission for Forestry and Forest Work has spent the last three years conducting a major study throughout the European Union. As part of the study, both cognition tests and adrenaline measurements were performed on over 10,000 professional forestry workers.
The neuropsychologists behind the tests discovered that the conspicuousness of the high visibility colour used to date truly is unsatisfactory in the forest. “The most important thing about a high visibility colour is the contrast,” explained the commission’s chair Mr. Jack Lumber. “Especially in northern Europe, where the leaves turn orange in autumn, the colour tone currently used is just not effective enough.” To find a solution to this problem, a number of alternative high visibility colours were trialled with test subjects. The key aspect for the researchers was how easily the colour could be seen, even over larger distances. Only one colour caused adrenaline levels to rise significantly in the test subjects, indicating a strong sense of awareness. The assessments of the subjects themselves backed up these findings and led to the only possible conclusion: bright pink is the most easily seen and elicits the required level of caution.
Bright pink is to become mandatory from May 2016
The finding of the study has now been codified for industry application in a new EU standard. To improve safety in the forest immediately, forestry workers must wear protective clothing with segments in bright pink (RGB 255,3,206) from May 2016. From this date high visibility orange will no longer be permitted. Furthermore, the impact will be accentuated through the use of neon or fluorescent dyes.
New clothing that meets this regulation will be delivered to our STIHL dealers over the next two weeks.
We will also be providing a kit for upgrading clothing that has already been procured. A special textile pigment and bright pink patches to attach to your jackets and trousers can also be purchased from your STIHL dealer.