Why Are Work Clothes Yellow With Silver Strips?

Whilst the brand is synonymous with the colour yellow, JCB work clothes are yellow for a particularly practical reason that started in the 1960s.

Vests, boiler suits and jackets tend to be a bright colour, usually either yellow, a bright mix of yellow and green, or fluorescent orange, with added silver stripes.

The reason for this stems back to the 1960s and the invention of a new material that helped people be seen in the dark.

Fluorescence And Retroreflection

The reason to use bright fluorescent colours is simple because they the most immediately visible to people, but because it is so commonly associated with safety equipment now has a secondary association with safety.

In the 1960s, retroreflective sheeting was first used on road signs to make them easier to see on dark roads. In 1964, this sheeting is paired with orange jumpsuits for work on a Scottish part of British Railways.

These electrical engineers working on the earlier electrified part of the rail network of the time were known as “fireflies”, wearing orange with these reflective stripes.

According to reports from train drivers, it allows them to see an engineer from over half a mile away under normal conditions.

This eventually made its way to legislation, first in the Health And Safety At Work Act 1974, and then as part of the 1992 Personal Protective Equipment At Work Regulations.

The innovations continued, with other colours being found such as the yellow/green chartreuse yellow becoming commonplace, and now it is a standard sight associated with safety on work sites.