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Category “HVSA”

Rise of Hi-Vis Counterfeit Garments: Using Standards as a Solution

The battle against counterfeit goods is well known in the luxury industry. As production shifts overseas, companies have less control over their supply chains, leading to the rise of fakes. With the total global trade of counterfeit goods reaching nearly half a trillion dollars a year, no industry is immune to counterfeiting and IP infringement.

However, in the personal protective equipment (PPE) arena, counterfeiting poses more than just a branding and business challenge. It represents a human life safety concern. For example, high-visibility safety apparel (HVSA) is critical to workers in highway, roadway, and traffic zones. In such cases, HVSA helps alert vehicle drivers to the presence of workers in low-light, low visibility environments. Given the hazards of working in high-traffic areas, there is a huge safety risk for workers who wear HVSA garments that are non-compliant and fake.

ANSI/ISEA 107: Using Standards to Fight Counterfeits & Non-Compliance

One keystone document used to assess the integrity of HVSA garments is ANSI/ISEA 107: The American National Standard for High-Visibility Safety Apparel and Accessories. This standard provides the minimum performance requirements for high-visibility garments, as well as performance class guidelines for HVSA garments worn in different work zones.

Following and understanding these guidelines will be the first step to combating counterfeit, and non-compliant HVSA garments. Many items in the market fail performance requirements. Yet they are still sold and improperly marketed since qualities such as retroreflectivity are difficult to examine visually. The following three part summary will aid your understanding of the performance standard.

3 Components to Evaluate Compliance of Hi-Vis Garments According to ANSI/ISEA 107

Fluorescent Background Material: Under normal daylight, the fluorescent background—for example, fluorescent yellow—provides adequate contrast against a background to improve visibility.

Retroreflective Tape: This component plays a huge role in nighttime visibility. As its name suggests, retroreflective materials can bounce light back to its source. This quality ensures that the wearer is noticeable in all postures and orientations.

Design: Different garment types must contain a “minimum area of visible materials.” For example, an HVSA garment used for off-road zones constitutes a Class 1 garment. This classification requires a minimum area of 0.14 sq. m of fluorescent background material and 0.10 sq. m of retroreflective tape. Design features such as pocketing and logos affect the proportion of visible tape and background material. Thus, one must consider style variations when evaluating HVSA compliance.

Performance Class 2 Vests in Two Different Styles with Labels; Protecting against counterfeit
Pictogram of Performance Class 2 Vest in Two Different Styles

Vartest Laboratories keeps counterfeit HVSA Garments off the market

We leverage our comprehensive expertise in HVSA garment evaluation to help keep fake products off the market, ensure worker safety, and educate consumers. In May, Vartest CEO Adam Varley presented on counterfeit textiles at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s “Forum on Sustainable Labor Practices” AATCC Student Chapter event. A summary of his talk is featured in Applied DNA Science’s June newsletter.

For more information on our technical services for safety apparel, please visit our HVSA website. A summary of our PPE and HVSA capabilities, and third-party certification programs can also be accessed here.

Vartest Approved Under Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Data Acceptance Program

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Vartest Laboratories conducts testing of high-visibility safety apparel (HVSA), including garments, retroreflective tapes, and background materials for a range of global standards.  This includes ANSI/ISEA 107, CSA Z96, ISO 20471, ASNZS 1906.4, and NFPA 1971.

As of August 2016, Vartest is certified to participate in Underwriters Laboratories’ (UL) Third Party Test Data Program (TPTDP). Under this program, test data from Vartest will be accepted by UL in support of UL Mark certification.  Vartest’s scope of testing under this program applies to UL’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Standard, Including ISEA 107, CSA-Z96, and NFPA 1971. These standards cover compliance of high-visibility garments, background materials, and retroreflective tapes.

UL’s typical certification process requires samples to be tested and approved through one of their own laboratories. This means that manufacturers and vendors seeking a UL Mark for one of their products must test and approve samples for compliance, and then have them tested a second time by UL themselves. When working with a TPTDP participant, however, only one round of testing is necessary, as the participant’s data is accepted by UL. Per UL’s website, this alternative process provides “increased control over the timing and schedule for their product testing and certification program,” because testing, and approval can all be performed at one location. This can significantly reduce the time and expenses incurred during testing.

Vartest prides itself on being an independent third party lab focused on quick and accurate test results. Our ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation through A2LA makes us fully qualified to test under ANSI/ISEA 107-2015.