You comply with safe work practices. You’ve planned safety training. You’ve reviewed your business’ safety protocols every now and then. Your workplace is stocked with appropriate PPE.
And of course, you’ve put up appropriate safety signs.
All of these are absolutely crucial when it comes to help keeping your team safe, and protecting them from accidents.
Of course, there’s a proper way to do all of this – even something as simple as signage is governed by OHS regulations. Are you 100% certain that you’re doing things correctly?
What are the 5 types of safety sign mistakes?
Mistake #1: Where are safety signs needed? Location matters when it comes to signage
The effectiveness of safety signages depends on many things – one of the most important of which is location!
The reality is that if they’re installed in the wrong location, then your sign isn’t really going to be effective at all. The wrong location can:
- Affect visibility
- Create obstructions
- Make signs hard to read
When it comes to danger signs in Australia, OHS laws require signage to be carefully placed to minimise obstruction and maximise visibility, with the best locations for safety signage being spots where workers can immediately see the sign and understand its message.
- Non-obstructed areas
- Good lighting conditions
- Considering viewing distance
- Avoiding high-traffic areas
And of course, you can’t forget to put them up near the hazards and dangers that they’re warning about!
Mistake #2: Unclear message
Safety signs should always convey a clear and concise message. Signs that are too wordy and too vague simply lead to confusion.
Luckily, our OHS laws mean that warning signs in Australia use standardised formats that are easy to understand, and not too information and text-heavy – something that can make all the difference when an emergency strikes.
This means standardised:
- Font sizes
- Graphics and icons
Of course, not all of the safety signs in your workplace will be standardised signs!
A large part of our business is making custom safety signs in Australia, including both templates and clean-sheet designs. While these signs aren’t listed under OHS regulations, ideally, they should still follow the same principles.
Mistake #3: Too many signs, too close to each other
Placing too many signs close together in one location can be an eyesore – moreover, it can lead to confusion!
Too many signs can be visually overwhelming to the reader, especially when they’re all different signs communicating different things.
As a general rule, when placing signs together, it’s a good idea to try to group them by meaning, purpose or function – for instance, GHS signs and hazchem signs often communicate related hazards and risks.
There are also times when you might need to combine signs in order to adequately communicate a hazard, danger or risk. These signs should be placed together to properly convey the risks associated with a piece of machinery, chemical or object.
Otherwise, we suggest leaving space to ensure that the messages don’t get mixed up.
Mistake #4: Visibility problems
We mentioned this above – however, this one’s so important that it deserves its own point!
Size matters when it comes to safety signages. Signs that are too small may cause visibility problems, as it can be difficult to read from a distance where danger is present.
Of course, size isn’t the only thing that can affect visibility!
Say you place a sign in a high-traffic area, where there are lots of people coming in and out – this can obscure your sign, causing visibility issues.
Another problem is lighting – poor lighting conditions can make it hard to see what a sign says.
And finally, there’s always the issue of sightlines. Think about where your staff are going to be – do they have a clear line of sight to your safety signs?
Mistake #5: Failure to maintain signages
Most safety signages, once installed, are easily forgotten. Over time, signs that aren’t properly maintained can fade, get covered with dust or become outdated.
Workplace safety signs will need to be maintained periodically to ensure that they’re serving their purpose.
That doesn’t mean in-depth work or anything like that – however, it does mean taking simple steps such as:
- Cleaning old signs once they start getting hard to read
- Reinstalling signs if they start getting a little wobbly
- Replacing old, damaged and worn-out signs
- Removing obstructions
- Updating safety signages when new standards and hazard sign meanings are identified
Why are safety and warning signs important?
While these mistakes may not sound like that big of a deal, the fact of the matter is that they can make all the difference!
Whether it’s hazchem, safety, warning or mandatory signs, workplace safety signs are a crucial part of workplace safety, and ignoring them puts you at peril.
Keep your staff in-the-loop about what they need to do
Safety and warning signages remind every staff member of what they need to do, what rules they should follow, and which guidelines they should adhere to while working. This can range from general advice, to specific hygiene and safety practices.
Safety signages also serve as instructions, telling your staff what they need to do to protect themselves.
This is especially important if you work with dangerous machinery or chemicals – in these situations, signs can help your staff respond to injuries, as well as contact and exposure to toxic substances.
Complies to legal workplace requirements
Australian workplace safety laws are very strict when it comes to safety – and that includes relatively “minor” things such as signage as well!
If you want to comply with the law and avoid a large fine (or worse), it’s imperative that you follow these laws to the letter. That means carefully adhering to the rules surrounding your signage requirements.
They help visitors
Your team should ideally already know what they need to do thanks to your induction process and ongoing drills.
But what about visitors, delivery drivers and people like that?
You can’t expect people who only attend your site every once in a while to be 100% familiar with your policies – that’s where signs come into the picture.
Signs such as fire safety signs, Hazchem signs and EIPs ensure that people visiting your workplace for the first time know what sorts of hazards are present – more importantly, it also ensures that they know how to keep themselves safe.
Avoid these safety sign mistakes (and more) with the help of Signsmart!
Signsmart helps you keep everyone safe in your workplace by providing you with everything you need signage-wise.
This goes beyond simply supplying the signs themselves – our team also offers a wealth of information and knowledge that you can draw on when putting your signage solution together.
Best practices, signage requirements, changes to legislation… These are just some of the things our signage experts can help you out with.
Our online sign shop provides you with all the workplace safety signs you’ll ever need, ranging from signs for common chemicals to custom jobs for rare chemicals and substances.
You’ll find everything you need at our online sign shop, as well as more if you get in contact with our knowledgeable team!