health and safety signs in the workplaceIt is important to know the importance of health and safety signs in the workplace, where they should be displayed or heard in the workplace, and what the signs mean.

Why are health and safety signs important?

Health and safety signs in the workplace are vital, and the correct signage is one of the main ways to communicate health and safety information to the team working in the business.

There are a variety of safety signs available that come in different forms, such as illuminated signs, traditional signboards and prohibition and warning signs. It is critical that all the safety signs in the workplace are understood and clearly seen.

Legal points and obligations about health and safety signs

In 1996, a regulation was put into force whereby employers are required to provide specific safety signs in the workplace whenever there is a risk that has not been avoided or controlled by other means. Where a safety sign would not help to reduce that risk, or where the risk is not significant, there is no need to provide a sign.

There are specific requirements for the shape, colour and pattern of safety signs. For example, signs must contain a symbol or pictogram and be a specific colour which clearly defines its meaning. Anchor text can also be used to help understanding, but text-only signs are not allowed in the workplace.

Employers must make sure that signs in the workplace are maintained. This means ensuring they are clean and easily read; any defective or faded signs should be replaced immediately. New employees to the company must understand the meaning about the signs and know what each one means.

Health and safety sign colours and what they represent

Red

Red safety signs mean prohibition and danger. They inform people that it is something important and perhaps dangerous, but the colour is generally associated with urgency.

Yellow / Amber

Yellow or amber signs are about warning. They warn people to take caution, be careful and to examine the situation.

Blue

Blue safety signs show people something that is mandatory. For example, they denote specific behaviour or an action, such as telling people to wear personal protective equipment.

Green

Green safety signs mean first aid is available, there is no direct danger and green is also used on emergency escape signs. Green tends to be on doors, exits, escape routes and facilities.

Speak to your health and safety consultant if you are unsure which signs you are required to display.