You know how important it is to have appropriate safety signs – but do you know whether or not your signs are appropriate?
While we’ve talked about this particular subject a couple of times before, it bears repeating that it isn’t enough to simply have safety signs. If you want to help protect your team and not run afoul of Australian laws, you’ll need to ensure that your signs are compliant.
For that to happen, there are a number of things that your signs will need to be.
Unsure if your signs meet the grade? Worried that you’ll be hit with a fine? What are the danger sign laws in Australia, anyway? Read on to find out what your safety signs need to have in order to stay safe!
What criteria does a danger sign have to meet? How to keep your signs compliant with Australian regulations
What words are commonly found on safety signs? What written messages must be on a safety sign
You can’t just write whatever you want on your signs, even if they get the general idea across!
As a signatory to a number of international treaties, agreements and systems such as Hazchem and the GHS, safety signs in Australia need to follow a number of requirements.
And that includes the written messages.
While the exact message will depend on the type of sign you’ve hung up – for example, emergency information panel signs are required to feature:
- Chemical or substance name
- Its UN number
- Hazchem code
- Contact numbers for specialist information
- Hazchem class diamond
Both the layout and the text used are non-negotiable – even the names of each of the fields need to be consistent.
While it may sound like overkill, the fact of the matter is that even if the written message is close enough, if you fail to use a compliant message, you may be at risk of an unexpected fine.
What colour is a warning safety sign?
It isn’t just the message that’s tightly regulated in Australia – it’s also crucial that your dangerous goods signs also use the appropriate images, pictographs and even colours!
For example, did you know that…
- … fire-related signs need to be in red?
- … that caution signs are required to be yellow?
- … evacuation and first-aid signs need to be green?
- … it’s mandatory for mandatory signs to be blue?
No matter what type of sign you’re looking to get for your site, chances are there’s some rule out there dictating what exact colour it needs to be in order to comply with Australian laws.
While a hand-made DIY sign might do the trick, it can be hard to be certain if you’re getting the right colours, especially if it’s a more obscure type of sign.
What are safety sign symbols, and why do they matter?
A picture says a thousand words – little wonder that the vast majority of safety signs make use of symbols, icons and pictographs to get their message across.
After all, the whole point of a sign is to quickly communicate an important piece of information – something that images, pictograms and icons can be extremely effective at!
Of course, as you’ve probably guessed by now, not just any old icons will do – no, you’ll need very specific ones as laid out by Australian OHS laws.
It may sound excessive until you remember that these signs need to be recognisable to anyone in the country, and possibly even outside of it, just by taking a single look at it.
For this to work, it requires consistency. That’s why signs like those banning eating and drinking always use a burger and a soft drink – while there’s some leeway, the sign needs to feature these two items.
And that’s just one example – all safety signs in Australia need to follow similar requirements regarding what icons and pictograms are used.
More than the signs themselves: what are the 4 types of safety sign criteria?
It’s crucial that your signs follow the guidelines above, as set out by Australian OHS laws.
However, there are other criteria that your signs will need to meet if your goal is to get signs that are fully-compliant with and fit-for-purpose.
To help you out, we’ve put together 4 other things you’ll need to think about…
A sign only works if people can see it – and to ensure that, you’ll need to start thinking about visibility. In particular, you’ll want to focus on 2 things:
The first is pretty straightforward – your sign needs to be close to whatever it’s warning against, otherwise people might not get the message.
For example, a dangerous chemical storage area sign should be hung up near where dangerous chemicals are stored, otherwise it isn’t going to be much help!
And with regards to sightlines, it’s crucial that you think about obstructions. Not only will you need to remove anything that might block your sign, but you’ll also want to think about things like traffic, as this can affect whether your team can see your signs.
Visibility isn’t just about location – it’s also about size. In fact, this particular element is so important, that we decided it should get its own point!
The further away you expect someone to see a sign from, the bigger it needs to be to compensate. For example, if you’re putting a sign up at the end of a long corridor, then said sign will need to be bigger so that people at the end of the corridor can understand it.
As a general rule of thumb, pictograms should scale up by 15mm per metre of viewing distance, while text should increase by 5mm.
Of course, we haven’t even accounted for lighting conditions – for darker workplaces, you’ll need to compensate with even larger signs.
When it comes to safety, danger and other signs, it isn’t just the designs, colours and text that are strictly regulated – so too are the materials they’re made of.
Safety signs need to be made of metal.This make them a lot tougher and more resilient compared to other materials, allowing your signs to last a lot longer without replacement.
In addition to added durability and strength, metal signs are also reflective, meaning that they can be much more visible as a result, especially if you’re worried about low-light conditions affecting visibility.
Just think about your typical road safety sign. Have you noticed how they reflect your headlights? It’s mandatory signs in Australia are also reflective just like this!
Changes in laws
One trend that’s been gaining momentum over the last 60-or-so years is the trend towards global convergence when it comes to safety signs.
After all, we’re shipping more cargo overseas than ever before – so it makes sense that our signs should be consistent around the world to minimise accidents and ensure that everybody is able to stay safe.
And that means keeping on top of changes to the global signage standards.
As a signatory to the GHS, Australian businesses will need to ensure that their signs follow the guidelines set out in this internationally-recognised code. Not only that, but they also need to ensure that they keep up with changes to the GHS.
For example, in 2012 Australia will begin transitioning to GHS 7, an updated version of GHS – something that will require you to update your signs in order to keep up.
More than just signs – we help you ensure your signs are working to keep you safe
While we may be an online sign shop first and foremost, that isn’t the only way we can help you. We’re experts in our field, with particular experience in hazchem signage as well as all of the different regulations and standards governing them.
It’s this experience that allows us to provide better service – on top of just selling the signs, we can also help you figure out what sorts of signs you need, offering a wealth of advice and experience.