The traditional arguments that I've heard involve color contrast and false color at sea. That is, a true yellow or orange or red will be hidden by the colors of sunset on anything white (including whitecaps) at sea. So late in the day when you really want to get someone before night falls, red and orange and yellow are camouflage colors.
Chartreuse, a color that most Americans can't spell or pronounce, is what is often called "OSHA yellow" or "neon green" or "lime". In theory it is more visible against the sunset colors at sea, so it is used for hoods, for something like the last 10-15 years. Spray hoods generally didn't exist before then, I think
it was an ISF rules revision that suggested adding them.
Chartreuse on land
--which is the OSHA criteria--came about because it is a totally unnatural color in most job environments, meaning construction sites, manufacturing plants, and roadways. If you look at catalog pictures of that safety
gear online, and look at the actual gear, you'll see it reproduces as green or
yellow, depending on the "printing" of the photo
. Not surprising, since the human eye literally deduces yellow (from a green-blue imbalance) we can't actually see that color.
However, it is the wrong color in many environments as well. The chartreuse bleaches out easily in sunlight and then becomes something similar to forsythia blossoms and a number of other shrubs, so school crossing guards and other people who like to duck into shade against "green" leafy backgrounds, can actually become invisible when wearing it.
Which is why you'll see many roads crews, utility crews, wearing vests that are both orange AND chartreuse now. Diagonals, stripes or crossed. The combination of the two can't be mistaken for anything natural. And you'll see the rear of many box ambulances and fire trucks with diagonal stripes in bright yellow and red, similarly unmistakable for anything else.
A little hard to get much of either color on whatever might be floating at sea, like your head
and shoulders. But both colors work in some situations, and since there's little shrubbery at sea, chartreuse should work well for a MOB
. Orange for bigger objects that will stick out, regardless of sunset coloring on whitecaps.
Just hope that life vests don't follow the fashion lead of foulie makers, and switch to black, white, and navy