It’s important to effectively communicate certain safety messages to individuals on your premises. One method to do this is through safety signs and symbols. In today’s work setting, there are numerous signs of different sizes and colours, each communicating a different meaning. This blog will look to identify what some of the most common signs mean and what they require you to do.
The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 states that an employer must ensure that signs are provided and maintained in areas where an individual’s health and safety is at risk. A risk assessment is required to identify whether signs are necessary or not.
Safety signs can’t be used as a means of controlling risks. They are used to remind and warn employees of any remaining risks and to instruct employees on the appropriate measures to take. If the risk is not significant after other measures have been implemented, there may be no need to provide signs. However, fire safety signs might be required under other regulations.
What are Safety Signs and Signals?
The definition of a Safety Sign is:
A sign providing information or instruction about safety or health at work by means of a signboard, a colour, an illuminated sign or acoustic signal, a verbal communication or hand signal;
In addition to safety signs, you get signboards which are:
A sign which provides information or instructions by a combination of shape, colour and a symbol or pictogram which is rendered visible by lighting of sufficient intensity. In practice, many signboards may be accompanied by supplementary text.
There are four categories for Signboards:
Firstly, this is a sign that prohibits behaviour or actions that are likely to increase the chance of danger. For example, no smoking. Prohibition signs are circular with a black pictogram on a white background with a red diagonal line through the middle and around the outside.
Secondly, a warning sign draws your attention to a potential hazard or danger. For example, warning about a hazardous substance. These signs are triangular with a black pictogram on a yellow background with black edging.
Thirdly, this sign encourages certain behaviours. For example, wearing Personal Protection Equipment. Mandatory signs are usually circular with a blue background with a white pictogram.
Finally, these signs provide information of emergency exits, first aid and rescue facilities. These signs are usually square or rectangular with a green background and white text.
Special care needs to be taken if an employee’s vision is impaired. This is because they may struggle to see the signs. In addition, if the sign uses audio aids, make sure they are loud so those with hearing problems can identify them. Take into account that employee’s PPE could obstruct their vision or hearing. Bright and unobstructed signs are most effective.
Eric’s Top Tip
Each week our Health and Safety expert Eric provide a top tip. This week he had this to say: ‘Don’t put too many signs in close proximity as they will lose their effectiveness. It may seem like a good idea to put signs all over your workplace but this will confuse individuals and create safety wallpaper.
What Sure Safety Can Offer
Sure Safety can do a general workplace inspections to identify signage requirement or improvements. If you want Sure Safety to help, then call us on 029 2086 8802 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s not worth taking the risk on someone’s safety.
Sure Safety can offer consultancy in the following areas: Health and Safety, Risk Assessment, Fire, Accreditation, Training and Policies, Planning and Management Systems. For more information on these services, look at our website. Furthermore, you can check out our Twitter or Facebook.