The Most Important Workplace Health and Safety Signage To Invest In

It is common knowledge the vital role that safety signs play within a businesses health and safety policy. However, many businesses may not recognise how important they really are. 


It would be an oversight to not properly consider the role safety signs have in preventing danger and properly considering which signage is needed within a workplace. Workplace safety intervention begins with communication between managers and staff to ensure that staff are on board with the safety measures in place. This communication is also essential for staff to recognise the importance of workplace health and safety signage and engage with the rules in place. 


Thus it is vital for those responsible for workplace safety to consider the immense value of health and safety signs, in order to ensure that any necessary signs are included and that they are being used properly. 


This guide will cover why health and safety signs are so important and what signage you may wish to consider in the workplace. 

Why is Health and Safety Signage So Important 


Instant Visual Communication 


Health and safety signs are important in that they communicate essential safety information in a visual way that is targeted and immediate. Safety signage often features photographic illustrations of hazards which are accompanied by clear and simple instructions. Workplace health and safety signs are colour coded in order to make it clear at first glance when workers enter high-risk areas or when action is required in order to ensure safety. 


Within diverse work environments where not all staff speak English or in louder work environments such as construction, health and safety signage is especially essential as verbal warnings of danger may be missed or misunderstood. 


Safety Methods


Safety signs offer more than just warnings. They often also serve to remind staff of the safest and effective ways to carry out their work. Signs may serve to highlight safe exit routes, how to operate machinery safely and help locate first aid kits. 


Custom safety boards may also be implemented in some workplaces to contain the facilities most valuable health and safety procedures and rules. 



Legal Requirements


One reason why deciding which health and safety signs need to be considered in the workplace is that they are a legal requirement within any field of work. Thus, installing them represents regulatory compliance. 


The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 states that signs are required where there is a significant risk to the health and safety of employees and others and continue to exist after any other relevant precautions have been taken.  


Therefore, these signs must be clear, legible, easily visible and well maintained. 


By law they must be used under the following conditions:

  • To warn against dangerous actions in a certain area
  • To highlight procedures that must be followed or any equipment that must be worn to guarantee safety. 
  • To bring attention to nearby hazards and dangerous situations. 
  • To help locate essential safety gear and fire safety equipment. 

Failure to follow these legal requirements can put businesses at risk of receiving fines and potential damage to their reputation. 


What Safety Signs Should be Considered

Now we have covered why workplace health and safety signage is so important and the legal requirements for having them in place, you may wonder which health and safety signs may be relevant at your place of work. 


Health and safety signs are colour coded to convey different important information and distinguish them from other signs in the workplace. 


Yellow or Amber Signs


These signs provide a warning and visualise to people that they must take care within their environment. Often, they are used to warn of hazardous chemicals. They are usually triangular in shape and must be yellow or amber with a black edge and include a clear picture of the hazard present. 


Red Warning Signs


Often within many workplaces, certain behaviours can be likely to risk health and safety. Red prohibition signs, therefore, show what is and is not allowed.  They often show a black symbol within a red circle with a diagonal cross through it. These usually coincide with clear instructions like “Do” and “Do not”.


Blue and White Mandatory Signs

These signs are mandatory meaning that they show an action that is required such as wearing high visibility clothing or safety gear. They are more often than not circular and more than half the background is required to be blue with a white pictogram, indicating the necessary action to be taken. 


Green Emergency Signs


Green signage highlights safety such as exit routes and first aid areas. They are rectangular in shape with clear white images that indicate which direction to go in order to find the safety facilities provided. Text is often included to provide additional clarity in case of an emergency. 

Fire Safety and First Aid Signs


Two very common signs present within most workplaces are fire safety and first aid signs. 


Fire safety signs often include signage for fire assembly points as well as the location of fire extinguishers, fire alarms and fire doors. These are an essential part of a companies’ fire risk assessment and safety system. They may also be used to remind employees to leave fire escape doors unobstructed and unlocked. Furthermore, they can help avoid people using lifts in circumstances of emergency and indicate the right way to go during an evacuation. In any situation where there is poor visibility caused by power failure or the presence of smoke from a fire, photoluminescent signs can be potentially life-saving. 


On the other hand, First aid signs if positioned appropriately can help people to find important equipment in circumstances where urgent medical attention is required. Essential equipment here may include automated external defibrillators as well as first aider signs so that first aid trained personnel can be quickly found. 

Specific Risks and Signs

There are a few additional workplace health and safety signs that you may need to consider to ensure a safe working environment and to remind people of possible actions they need to take.  These may include:


Hot Work and Welding


Hot work can be dangerous in that it can increase the risk of fire. Regulations for fire safety state that hot work should only be undertaken when a suitable alternative isn’t available. In some cases fumes, sparks and flames may be likely and a permit to work will be required alongside the necessary signage. 


Hazardous Substances


These pictograms help ensure employees are made aware of the presence of hazardous materials. CLP hazard pictograms take the shape of a diamond with a white background and red border. These show how the chemicals could harm people as well as the surrounding environment. One or more of these signs may be used to label a single chemical. 


Gas and explosives


Areas that are used to store explosive substances or where an explosive atmosphere could exist must be permanently marked with appropriate signage in order to ensure safety for employees and anyone else who is present. 


Asbestos 


Asbestos can be a potential risk for both indoor and outdoor spaces within many workplaces. Inhaling these damaging fibres can lead to serious illness or in the worst cases even death. In order to ensure safety against asbestos poisoning and comply with legislation, asbestos warning signs should be clearly visible where appropriate. 


Protective equipment


In many workspaces, the use of protective equipment (PPE) or safety clothing needs to be worn to ensure safety. Mandatory safety clothing signs ensure that everyone is made aware of what is required and help people to comply with health and safety regulations. 


Vehicle Movement


In many workspaces such as warehouses and distribution facilities, moving vehicles must be managed in order to protect the health and safety of those on-site. This may include areas that are restricted for pedestrians or vehicles indicating when they can and cannot travel through and where danger may be present. These instructions must therefore be enforced by signs that are clearly visible. 


Overhead Risks


Overhead risks may include unstable structures, power cables and cranes all of which should be clearly signed in order to mitigate potential health and safety risks. A risk assessment will identify here what is required in accordance with health and safety regulations. 


Electrical Risks


Accidents relating to electricity can be very serious and even life-threatening. Signage about electrical risks are usually distinguished by a lightning symbol and can be used in order to warn workers of potential dangers. Electrical Risks can be present in both indoor and outdoor facilities as well as industrial environments. So signs suitable for a variety of locations might be suitable. 


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