Safety signs are found within a variety of institutions in order to convey information that people need to see and understand in order to stay safe and compliant.
These institutions include places such as:
- Science laboratories
- Medical facilities
- Factories and warehouses
- Offices and commercial buildings
- Education facilities
- Entertainment and retail venues
- And in fact, almost any kind of public space
Safety signs and symbols are used to direct people what to do, what not to do, to warn people of hazards, and to alert and direct people to a specific area.
Each country has their own code of conduct and standard when it comes to properly displaying safety signs. Australia uses the Hazchem system and the AS 1319 for all safety related signs.
However, most countries follow a similar standard, so they are generally universally accepted, recognised, and understood.
In this blog post, we take a look at the four most common categories of safety signage, detailing how each is instantly distinguishable from its colouring, and why they are critical in your workplace.
What are the four types of safety signs?
The four types of safety signs are prohibition, caution, mandatory, and emergency signs.
It is important that each category has a different colour scheme and format so that people can recognise them quickly and easily.
There are hundreds of safety signs on the market, and it’s likely that your workplace itself is home to at least a dozen of them.
Being able to recognise the category at first glance makes these types of signs easier to interpret, and importantly, easier to respond or react to.
Ensuring your team understands the safety sign categories as well as the action, instruction, or behaviour required strengthens workplace safety and compliance. And at the end of the day, safety is the top priority for all of us!
1. Prohibition signs
Prohibition signs are signs that usually convey behaviour or an action that is not allowed.
Prohibition signs have a red-outlined circle with a red diagonal cross through it. The pictogram depicts the action you shouldn’t do. Usually simple text accompanies the pictogram, such as NO ENTRY or NO DOGS.
One of the most popular examples you likely encounter in your day to day is NO SMOKING signs.
These prohibition signs are prevalent among petrol stations, shopping centres, schools, and bars, just to name a few!
2. Caution signs
Caution signs make individuals aware of a hazard that is either close in proximity or of a potential dangerous incident that could occur.
They can be physical, like warning you of pedestrians or cyclists, or they can be pertaining to chemicals like toxic or hazardous waste.
Caution signs are generally yellow, with black, bold pictorials and/or text.
The signs themselves are sometimes shaped like a triangle, but it is more common to have a pictogram in a triangular symbol on a rectangular sign.
Popular caution signs include:
- SLIPPERY WHEN WET
- FORKLIFTS OPERATING
- CLEANING IN PROGRESS
Caution signs for the workplace are reminiscent of road caution signs that we see while driving. These signs also depict potential hazards, alerting a driver (or any other person) to take caution.
Caution signs differ from danger signs as the former pertains to minor or non-life threatening injuries. Danger signs, on the other hand, warn of more threatening hazards which may result in serious injury or even death.
3. Mandatory signs
Mandatory signs inform individuals that they must wear certain personal protective equipment (PPE).
This type of signage can also convey instructions to follow, requirements that must be met, or behaviour that should be obeyed.
Mandatory signs have a blue background with white pictorials and are usually accompanied by text.
PPE is important when handling hazardous chemicals so you may find mandatory signs near stored chemicals.
Common examples include signs such as:
- FACE MASK MUST BE WORN
- AISLE MUST BE KEPT CLEAR
- SAFETY GOGGLES MUST BE WORN
Many mandatory signs, particularly those that pertain to PPE, are also required due to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more COVID-19 signage, including instruction signs, information signs, and floor discs, click here.
4. Emergency signs
Emergency signs are signs that dictate action or instruction. They can also direct you to a location in an emergency such as fire exits, emergency phones, or first aid kits.
Emergency signs have a green background, and can contain text only, pictogram only or both.
What are the nine hazard symbols?
Hazard symbols are most commonly found on different types of signage, including Emergency Information Panels (EIPs).
EIPs contain key information that is easily recognised and distinguished by any person entering your site, workplace, or property.
The nine hazard symbols on health and safety hazard signs indicate when a substance can potentially:
- Be flammable
- Be oxidising
- Be explosive
- Be toxic
- Be corrosive
- Be a dangerous gas under pressure
- Have serious health consequences
- Have mild health consequences
- Be a danger to the environment
We need safety signs for hazardous substances to keep your workplace and the people within safe at all times.
Additionally, there are strict regulations that must be met, and standards that must be followed, in order for businesses, particularly in the chemical, transport, or manufacturing industries, to remain compliant.
Need safety signs? Ensure workplace compliance with Signsmart
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