Information & Advice
Information and advice from leading industry experts
It is a legal requirement to clearly mark potential hazards in a work place with safety signs. This is to reduce risk of danger, injury or illness for yourself and colleagues. Having health and safety signs to warn of hazards could make the difference between a safe work environment and being sued for negligence if a colleague is injured. Health and Safety laws are enforced by the Health and Safety Executive who will inspect the safety levels of your premises if you work in a hazardous industry.
All potential hazards in a working environment must be identified and risk assessed. The appropriate measures must be installed to minimise the health risk to employees. So, for example, if you identified a low ceiling in your work place, you can mark this with a warning sign to draw attention to the potentially dangerous situation. Safety signs highlight the situation to workers once other measures have been put in place to significantly reduce the hazard. Health & Safety signs can be used to warn or instruct; they can give directions of how to avoid a hazard or react to danger in order to protect yourself.
Health and safety regulations 1996 states ALL employers Must use a sign where there is a risk to health and safety that has not been avoided by other methods required under relavent law.
Iso 7010:2011 prescribes safety signs for the purposes of accident prevention, fire protection, health hazard information and emergency evacuation. The shape and colour of each safety sign are according to iso 3864-1 and the design of the graphical symbols is according to iso 3864-3. iso 7010:2011 is applicable to “ALL” workplaces, sectors and location locations where safety issues related to people need to be addressed. However it is not applicable to the signalling used for guiding rail, road, river, maritime and air traffic and, in general, to those sectors subject to a regulation which may differ with regard to certain points of iso 7010:2011 and of the iso 3864 series. iso 7010:2011 specifies the safety sign originals that may be scaled for reproduction and application purposes.
The major catagories for safety signs are:
- Mandatory signs, identifying somthing that must be followed. these can range from personal protentive equipment required when on building site, such as hard hats and high visibilty jackets. The use of mandatory signs can also be used in other areas such as kitchen safety and fire safety actions. Mandatory signs will display a BLUE circle with a WHITE pictogram to clearly identlfy the mandatory instruction. Text on these signs must also be WHITE on a BLUE background. The blue part covering at least 50% of the sign area.
- Prohibition signs, identifying something that is prohibited such as no smoking or access restrictions. The use of these signs is often to identify a potential danger or something that is illegal. Prohibition signs will display a RED circular shape on a WHITE background with a BLACK pictogram clearly identifying what is prohibited. The red part covering 35% of the sign.
- Warning signs, identifying something that may cause harm to persons unaware of its presents. These warning hazards can range from chemical, electrical, machinery, noise, temperature, slips trips and falls, asbestos and many other identifiable hazards around the work or public buildings. Warning signs will display a YELLOW triangle with a BLACK border, BLACK text and display a BLACK pictogram specific to clearly identify the particular hazard. The yellow part of the sign must also cover 50% or the sign. Car should be taken when a warning sign is displayed as a potential hazard will be present.
- Safe Condition signs, identifying safety procedurrs such as locations of fire escapes, exit routes, assembly points and first aid kits. Some of these signs such as fire escape signs must be used along with fire safety signs that can list procedures of what to do in the event of a fire. First aid and safe condition signs will display a GREEN background with WHITE text and WHITE pictogram. The green par of the sign must also cover at least 50% of the sign.
When assessing what warning safety signs are required a risk assessment will need to be carried out in most cases.
Some examples of upto date signs are shown above.