Keeping your team and your worksite safe is one of the top priorities for business owners and managers – while this goes for all businesses, it’s especially in businesses that work with toxic or harmful materials.
If you work with these types of materials, you’re no doubt aware of the many obligations you’re required to meet. That includes proper safety signage, that includes hazard and danger signs.
Now, despite how similar they might sound, the fact of the matter is that they’re completely different signs that have completely different meanings and uses!
It’s very important to know the difference between the two so that you can always be aware of the type of threat a sign is warning you about.
So, what’s the difference?
“Hazard” vs “danger” – what’s the difference, and why does it matter?
Before we talk about different safety signs and their meanings, we need to start by going over the basics.
Namely, the difference between a “hazard” and a “danger”.
Sure, it may sound like we’re splitting hairs – however, it’s crucial that you understand the difference.
Not only does this help you buy appropriate safety signs, but it also means you can write a better safety procedure should (heaven forbid) things go wrong.
Long story short, the difference lies in how long it takes for the harm to take effect.
Hazardous materials = a slow burn
A hazard sign is warning you that the substances in question could be detrimental to your long-term health. The harm in this case can take days, months or even years to start presenting with symptoms.
Possible detrimental outcomes from being exposed to chemicals with a hazard warning include:
- Skin sensitivity
- Cause harm to unborn baby
Dangerous materials = immediate injury or harm
By contrast, a danger is something that can cause immediate negative reactions when you’re exposed to it directly.
Compared to the slow burn of hazardous materials, dangerous materials may be:
Needless to say, exposure to dangerous materials requires immediate medical attention!
Common hazard signs and their meanings
It’s important to remember that just as there are different kinds of hazards, there are also different hazard signs.
You can’t get away with using a generic hazard sign – according to Australian Standard AS 1319, your hazard signs need to explicitly refer to the exact threat in both writing and in the printed graphic.
Some of the more common safety signs include…
Biological hazard signs and their meaning
A biological hazard refers to a toxin, virus or other biological substance that can negatively affect the health of both humans and animals.
In particular, we make a lot of these hazard signs for healthcare facilities and other businesses that work closely with them.
We’re talking about hospitals, as well as GPs, vets and even school nurses!
Hazchem signs and their meaning
Hazchem is a specific subsection of hazard signs that refers specifically to hazards that are chemical in nature.
In particular, this includes corrosive liquids or substances likely to cause injury or illness such as harsh chemicals.
At Signsmart, we produce a range of hazard signs.
We work closely with transport companies and warehousing businesses to produce hazchem stickers for potentially hazardous cargo.
Hazard signs for radioactive materials
Radioactive material can be very temperamental – not to mention, it can have dramatic consequences for your health!
As such, there are extremely specific measures that needed to be taken when storing or moving radioactive materials.
Specific, easy-to-read signage from Signsmart will ensure the correct procedures are carried out.
Common danger signs and their meanings
As we mentioned above, danger signs mean that substances have the potential to cause immediate, negative reactions.
Needless to say, it’s crucial that danger signs are highly visible, bold and clearly communicate not just the materials in question, but also the potential consequences should things go wrong!
And thanks to the huge amount of dangerous goods and substances out there, there are a multitude of different signs you might need to buy for your property.
It is important you select the right safety sign – this ensures that potentially dangerous materials are handed with the appropriate levels of care, thereby keeping your team and site visitors safe.
For example, AS 1319 requires all substances which are life-threatening to be identified danger signs that:
- Have the word “danger” printed in white capital letters against an attention-grabbing red oval on a black background
- Clearly identify the hazard
- Outline access conditions, rules or procedures
The following is a short list of danger sign meanings that will help you establish which signs your workplace needs.
Flammable gas and explosives
This represents the highest possible risk to your work site. When you work with explosives and other flammable substances, you need signage that’s large and attention-grabbing.
In addition to identifying the gas or explosive in question, it’s also recommended that your danger signs also provide instructions on fire procedures and fire plan.
Toxic gasses and poisons
Signsmart can help you to acquire toxic gas signs that are specific to the type of gas being handled. Workers and team members need to know exactly how to handle and transport toxic materials in order to be safe at all times.
Additionally, we also supply mandatory signs that outline essential safety equipment and procedures when handling gas.
The role emergency information panels (EIPs) play
In addition to identifying hazards and dangers, signage can also be used to prescribe courses of action.
Emergency information panels (EIPs for short) are perfect for that – like the name suggests, these are used to identify hazardous substances and advise of specialist advice or courses of action in case of emergency. They are vital for emergency services crews as they advise of the exact substance being stored / transported and what actions are required to subdue the risk.
If you work with dangerous or hazardous materials, we strongly recommend getting a couple of these printed!
At Signsmart, we custom-make EIPs. Tell us your unique emergency plan, and we’ll print and ship a tailored EIP that outlines exactly how your staff should respond to a spill or accident.
Shop safety signs at Signsmart
Now that you understand the difference between hazard sign and danger sign meanings, you’ll be ready to select the right signs for your workplace.
And if you are in the market for signage with the correct safety sign meaning and safe handling procedures, you can’t go wrong with Signsmart.
Signsmart can help you source custom safety signs and dangerous goods labels.
We stock a huge range of dangerous and hazardous goods signs – one for just about every type of hazard or danger out there.
And if you can’t find what you’re looking for, we’ll custom make a batch, just for you.
Tell us what you work with and we’ll do the rest. You can even send over rough or hand-drawn mockups of what you need!
Once you’ve made a decision on which signs you’d like to purchase, all you need to do is go to the checkout and wait!