It is the responsibility of the employer to comply with the Health and Safety Signs and Signals Regulations of 1996 to provide employees and visitors to the work environment with adequate warnings and instructions on how to behave in certain areas. Workplace safety signs and signals are the primary means of providing such communication. Where there is a risk to health and safety, signs should be clearly visible to alert everyone that they need to monitor their behaviour, which may include:
- not proceeding past the point of the sign
- checking that they’re wearing the necessary personal protective clothing
- providing location information for fire exits or first aid kits.
To comply with regulations, all employers should carry out regular risk assessments to identify hazards in the workplace and to put control measures in place to safeguard all employees or anyone else visiting the work environment. Safety signs are not a substitute for other types of control measures, but they’re essential in reducing any residual risk to employees and reminding them to check their behaviour.
Training should always be given to ensure that all employees are aware of the potential hazards in their workplace and the policy that has been designed to keep everyone safe from these risks. Safety signs act as a vital support tool to remind everyone of their responsibilities.
Types Of Safety Signs
There are several categories of safety signs that you’ll commonly see used across workplaces and public environments throughout the UK.
- Prohibition signs – these are red in colour which instructs the employee to ‘Stop’ due to a serious threat of danger. Often these might be used to deliver a clear message such as ‘No Access for Unauthorised Persons’
- Warning signs – these are yellow in colour and alert employees or visitors about a potential hazard, allowing them to check their behaviour, for example ‘Danger: Electric Shock Risk’.
- Mandatory signs – these blue coloured signs provide clear instructions about what the reader should do in this particular zone. ‘Eye protection must be worn’ for example.
- Green signs – these are informative and essential in helping the reader to locate various resources such as fire escapes or first aid kits.
Use of Safety Signboards
Employers should follow certain best practices when it comes to the use of safety signs in the workplace. They should be clearly visible, which means hanging them securely and in a prominent position. The sign must be durable so that it doesn’t become damaged, but if any wear and tear does occur, it is the responsibility of the employer to repair or replace the sign for the safety of all workplace occupants. Similarly, the sign should be maintained, ensuring that it is clean so that the text and symbols are clear. It is important not to use too many signboards in close proximity to each other, as this can be confusing to the employee and there is a risk of important information being overlooked if the sign is competing with other alerts.
British Standard Regulations
Your signage should always comply with British and European standards with regards to colours, pictograms and the size of text displayed. For example, when it comes to text and illumination, your safety signs should always meet the requirements outlined in BS 5499-4:2013 and BS 5499-4:2014, whereas acceptable pictogram usage can be found in BS EN IS 7010. The wording used on your sign should match the category of sign that you’ve chosen. For example, where you’re displaying mandatory blue signs to provide definite instructions, use commands such as ‘must’ instead of ‘should’. ‘Eye protection must be worn’ is more assertive than ‘Eye protection should be worn’ which implies that it might be optional.
Aside from hanging signboards, safety posters are an important way to remind your employees of best practices in the workplace and of their responsibilities towards compliance. By hanging the COSHH poster in a prominent position, you can show employees how to work safely and reduce the risk of accidents and injury, so this type of display is educational and preventative by nature.
Other types of safety posters are more useful in the event of a real-life emergency. Electric shock posters, First Aid for Eyes and First Aid for Burns all provide instructions of how to handle this type of injury.
PPE Supplies Direct offers a full range of prohibition, mandatory, hazard and green information signs alongside safety posters to ensure that your organisation is fully compliant with regulations. Get in touch with us on 0808 109 6099 if you have any questions about our safety products and we’ll be happy to help!