Employers have a duty to protect their employees from harm and to ensure the workplace is as safe as it can possibly be. If there is a risk that cannot be controlled or avoided by other means, then it should have a sign clearly warning of the potential dangers. The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 cover all aspects of workplace safety signage and ensure the signs are easily recognisable and of a standardised design.
The regulations cover all aspects of signage, from illuminated fire escape signs to stickers warning of hazardous chemicals. The UK act is designed to match signs in British workplaces to those in the rest of the EU, helping ensure signs will mean the same no matter what the country. Signs are categorised according to the information they have to convey, each type has a particular format to help get the message across clearly.
These signs are used to alert people to a nearby danger such as a slippery floor or corrosive substance. They are always an equilateral triangle with a black band around the edge and a black pictogram on a yellow background that clearly indicates the type of hazard.
Safe Condition Signs
These are the signs used to show the location of emergency exits, first aid boxes and other safety equipment. They consist of a green square or rectangle with a white pictogram indicating where to go in an emergency or what safety equipment is available. UK Building Regulations state that there should be an exit sign placed by every doorway, escape window or other exit route so these are one the most familiar signs you will come across in the workplace.
In the simplest terms, these signs are ones that clearly tell you not to do something. A No Smoking sign is probably the most common of this type, a circular sign with a red band around the edge and a diagonal red stripe over a black pictogram of the outlawed activity.
In a way, these are almost the opposite of the prohibition signs, they order an activity to be carried out rather than stopping it. This is the category of sign that will tell you to wear ear protection or wash your hands after visiting the toilet. They are blue signs with a white pictogram and white text that contains the instructions to be followed.
The clear communication of safety information helps maintain a safe environment and minimise risk for employees. Putting up these signs in the workplace is not enough in itself to protect staff, without adequate training in the meaning of the signs and the importance of following their instructions, they will not be effective. Our Health and Safety consultants can help your business make the working environment as safe as possible for all workers. In addition to heating ventilation systems maintenance and property maintenance, ST Maintenance solutions are able to advise on and provide safety signage to keep you up to date with the 1996 regulations.