The Three Things You Need to Know About Safety Signs
Safety signs are an important part of my workplace or any public space, as they help to communicate important information to my employees about potential hazards and provide guidance on how they can safely navigate a space. There are several key facts we all should know about safety signs in order to effectively use and understand them. To use signs properly I have taken the time to learn what colours are used and what they mean, what the different shapes mean and what the correct size a sign needs to be for its desired purpose. Why are the colours on safety signs important? As an employer im aware of specific colours to convey specific messages on safety signs, and it is important that my employees or the general public can understand and recognise these colours in order to keep them safe. There are several different colours that are universally used for the different types of safety signs, this helps me convey different messages efficiently and to grab others attention more effectively. The main colours used on safety signs are: Red: Red is for prohibition, and I use it to indicate danger or to alert staff or customers and others to take caution. This could include warning signs for hazards such as a fire, electrical dangers, or radiation. These signs are designed to grab attention quickly and alert my staff and others to take immediate action. Yellow/Orange: Yellow and orange are used on warning signs, to indicate caution or to alert my staff and customers to potential hazards. This could include signs for hazardous substances, slippery surfaces, equipment that is in use or low hanging objects. Blue: Blue is for mandatory signs, these signs I use to indicate mandatory actions, such as when employees should be wearing protective equipment or following specific procedures. Green: Green signifies no danger and is for safety signs that are used to indicate where safety equipment is, such as first aid kits, emergency showers and fire exits, or to provide safety information. These signs help locate and use safety equipment appropriately and find a safe place to escape to, if needed. Other colours you may also find on safety signs are purple, which is sometimes used to indicate radiation hazards, and black and white, which I sometimes use for general information such as directions. The different colours used on our safety signs are chosen for their ability to grab my staffs and customers attention and to clearly convey specific messages universally. It is important that we use these colours effectively in order to ensure the safety and well-being of my employees and customers. Red Prohibition sign Danger alarm Dangerous behaviour; stops; shutdown; emergency cut-out devices; evacuate Yellow Amber Warning sign Be carefull; take precautions; examine; examine Blue Mandatory sign Specific behaviour or action, eg water protective equipment Green Emergency escape First-aid sign Doors; exit; escape routes; equipment and facilities Source : Health and Safety Executive, Safety Signs and Signals, ‘The Health and Safety (Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996, 3rd Ed, 2015. No danger Return to normal What do the different shapes on safety signs mean? Each shape serves a specific purpose and is designed to grab your attention and make you aware of potential hazards. The most common shapes you see on safety signs are: Triangles: Triangle-shaped safety signs are used to indicate warning. These signs warn you and others of potential hazards, such as slipping or tripping, and remind people to be cautious and take appropriate precautions. Circles: Circle-shaped safety signs are used to highlight actions that are prohibited. These signs remind of actions or activities that are not allowed, such as smoking or using equipment without proper training. Rectangles: Rectangle-shaped safety signs are used to indicate mandatory actions. These signs are there to remind you and others of the rules you must follow to stay safe on the job, such as wearing protective equipment or following specific procedures. Diamonds: Diamond-shaped safety signs are used to identify a specific hazard. These signs provide information about the potential hazards present in a specific area, such as the presence of toxic substances or electrical hazards. What size health and safety sign do you need? As employers we know how important being able to efficiently convey the meaning behind the different colours and shapes on safety signs to our employees, these tools are only effective if they can be seen clearly. Depending on where your desired location of the sign is, making sure as employers we have the correct size making a big difference to visibility and ultimately the safety of my workforce. In the UK we work towards these guidelines: If your signage is to be viewed up to 10 metres away Your landscape sign would need to be 300 x 100mm Your portrait sign would need to be 210 x 297mm If your signage is to be viewed up to 15 metres away Your landscape sign needs to be 400 x 150mm Your portrait sign needs to be 300 x 400mm If your signage is to be seen up to 20 metres away You would need a landscape sign to be 600 x 200mm You would need a portrait sign to be 420 x 594mm These size guidelines should enable a well sighted individual to be able to clearly view the image and associated text up to the specified distances on your safety signs. Appropriately sized signage can mean the difference between someone being made aware of a risk and adjusting their behaviour, accordingly, as opposed to an individual unknowingly increasing their risk of injury. The location of safety signs is also a very important component to bear in mind when you are placing your signs. To ensure they are relevant and appropriate, the HSE recommends that all signs are durable, well maintained, and securely fastened. They should be placed at eye level or within proximity to the risk they are highlighting, for example, a warning sign for a specific machine should be next to, or on the relevant machine. Signs indicating fire exits should be mounted above doors to highlight your fire exit route, that would be used in the case of an evacuation. Overall, safety signs are an important tool for helping to ensure the safety and well-being of you and your employees in any workplace or public space. By understanding the size, shape, and colour of safety signs, you can more effectively navigate and understand the hazards and risks present in your environment. So, it is always better to be aware of these key facts about safety signs to avoid any unwanted incidents in your workplace.