How to Choose Orange vs. Yellow High Visibility Safety Apparel

ANSI compliant, Hi Vis -

How to Choose Orange vs. Yellow High Visibility Safety Apparel

Orange and yellow are both bright, attention-grabbing colors often associated with safety in people’s minds. But which color should you wear for your high visibility safety apparel to achieve the best protection in a work environment? The answer depends on several factors. For example, what type of workwear are you using, safety vests or reflective harnesses. What are the ASNI requirements for your work environment?

Many employers and workers favor yellow because it appears brighter than orange. This may be true when you only consider the garment alone.  However, there are other variables you need to consider to solve whether yellow is safer than orange. Conspicuity is a factor that needs to be considered.

Conspicuity is the ability of the object to capture the attention of an observer. Now consider that yellow or orange vest in a complex environment with many competing objects in the background. For example, a warehouse crew working in a busy warehouse full of different types of packaging and materials. A forklift operator driving through the warehouse will have so many objects competing for their attention: how do we ensure other workers on foot in the warehouse are easily noticed? The answer lies in making them conspicuous through contrast and recognition.

Evaluate Contrast for Detection

Compare contrast to determine whether a particular color stands out and can be easily detected. This is the difference between the lightest and darkest parts of an image. In general, the lighter areas of an image should be brighter than the darker areas. You can use contrast to help people detect objects against a background. Some studies suggest that we see things better when they stand out against a contrasting background. If you’re trying to draw attention to something, you should try using a different color than what’s around it. For instance, yellow apparel in a darker warehouse environment may create a sharper contrast than orange.


Evaluate Recognition 

We all tend to have a subconscious response to orange and yellow colors. Even though yellow is technically brighter and the most widely used for safety. Orange tends to have more substantial meaning and is recognized as a hazard identifier. We use orange to identify “caution.”

This is why orange is widely used in road construction. Cones, barrels, and the auto warning triangle tend to be orange. Orange is the likely color of recognition associated with roadside work, and it is also used to identify people while hunting. Since the 1960s, orange has been the best color to see and recognize humans in a hunting environment.

Which Color Provides the Best Protection? 

So which color offers the best protection - orange or yellow? As we have indicated, it will depend on the conspicuity factors. You need to consider the combination of detection and recognition best suited for the worker’s environment. When purchasing protective apparel for workers, consider contrast for detection, recognition for conspicuity, and ANSI visibility standards.

LEARN MORE - Download our guide on how to choose between orange and yellow.