Safety signs in the workplace
Safety signs will be present in every working environment to give anyone who enters the best information about the risks and to help keep the working environment as safe as possible.
There are 4 distinct types of signs you should look out for and in this article we will go through them so you know what to look out for and what action’s you will need to take.
Prohibitory signs are put in pace to stop behaviours that might increase or cause danger in the workplace, such as smoking.
- Circular shape
- Black pictogram with White background. Located inside red circle with diagonal strike through the centre. (Red part of the sign must take up at least 35% of total area).
Warning signs are used to highlight risks or dangers in the workplace, such as flammable material.
- Triangular shape
- Black pictogram on a yellow background with black edging. (Yellow part of the sign must take up at least 50% of total area).
Mandatory signs are put in place to highlight acts that must be abided by, such as wearing eye protection.
- Circular shape
- White pictogram on blue background. (Blue part of the sign must take up at least 50% of total area).
Emergency escape or first aid signs are there to help you navigate a workplace to find safety via an exit or to locate a first aid box.
- Rectangular or square shape
- White pictogram on a green background (the green part of the sign must take up at least 50% of total area).
The Regulations implement European Council Directive 92/58/EEC on minimum requirements for the provision of safety signs at work state that employers are to provide safety signs where other methods, properly considered, cannot deal satisfactorily with certain risks and where the use of a sign can further reduce that risk. Safety signs are not to be used as a substitute for other methods of control and should be used on top of controlling methods.
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (the Management Regulations) states that employers must consider the results of the risk assessment that has been created – the assessment will need to identify the hazards and risks, then state the control measures that have been put in place. Safety signs can then be used to highlight risks further and give employers more information. If the risk is not significant there may be no need to provide a sign.
An example for when risks might be small but a sign is still necessary would be if there was the use of flammable chemicals, you can make sure that safety equipment is worn and flammable materials are reduced but the risks may still be present to workers and therefore the use of a sign helps to highlight the dangers.
Although these regulations do not require safety signs to be used where there is no significant risk to health and safety, certain fire safety signs may have to be displayed under separate legal provisions. If you have any doubts check this with your enforcing authority for fire safety.