Having safety signs in the workplace is essential.
A visible instruction from a safety sign gives a clear indication and lessens the likelihood of accidents to employees and non-employees, and therefore creates a safer working environment.
Importantly, having warehouse safety signs will help you to comply with the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 (the Regulations).
In this blog, we’ll cover 4 compulsory safety signs in the UK workplace, as well as introduce you to some lesser-known methods of signage.
Compulsory signs in the UK workplace:
- Fire safety signs
- Emergency exit signs
- Road traffic regulations within the workplace
- Prohibition signage
These 4 important safety signs can be broken into categories: Prohibition, Warning, Mandatory and Emergency.
A sign prohibiting behaviour likely to increase or cause danger (e.g. “No access for unauthorised personnel”)
These signs should be used for “Do Not” commands. For example – to indicate that smoking is not allowed in a particular area. In the workplace, they should be used to reinforce instructions prohibiting dangerous activities.
Signs prohibiting an activity appear as a circular red band with a single diagonal cross line descending from left to right at a 45-degree angle. The background should be solid white with the imagery indicating the nature of the command in black.
Prohibition signs can also be applied to the floor as a graphic floor marker. For example, you could highlight areas where forklift trucks or pedestrians are prohibited.
A sign giving a warning of a hazard or danger (e.g. “Danger: High Voltage”)
These signs should be used to make people aware of nearby dangers.
For example, a flammable liquid store.
These health and safety signs are required by the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 and in specific cases by the Dangerous Substances (Notification and Marking of Sites) Regulations 1990.
Signs warning of a particular hazard appear as a black band in the shape of an equilateral triangle. The background within the band should be yellow with the imagery indicating the type of hazard in black, positioned centrally on the sign.
Warning signs can also be displayed as graphic floor markers, including half-circle floor signs. For example, you can highlight areas where pedestrians should watch their step, or areas where forklifts should sound their horn to alert others to their location before proceeding.
A safety sign prescribing specific behaviour (e.g. “Personal Protective Equipment Must Be Worn”)
These signs should be used to indicate actions that must be carried out in order to comply with statutory requirements. For example, self-closing fire doors that must be kept closed to comply with the fire risk assessment should be labelled with “FIRE DOOR KEEP SHUT” signs. An area of a construction site where hard hats should be worn should also have appropriate signs at the entry points.
It should be noted that the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 do not apply to mandatory fire instructions but do apply to health and safety mandatory signs where imagery is required. The minimum regulatory requirement is for the sign to display appropriate imagery.
There are no pictograms for fire safety instruction signs and although mandatory in the UK through inclusion in the requirements of workplace fire assessments, such signs are not considered health and safety signs within these Regulations. Thus the familiar white-on-blue fire safety mandatory signs using text only will remain in place and will not have to be changed.
Fire instruction notices are notices which list actions that occupants must carry out in the event of a fire and are, by convention, written in white text on a blue background but not in the circular format. The colours are used to convey the mandatory nature of the instructions but because of the amount of text typically needed, a rectangular format is used.
The general mandatory sign of a white exclamation mark on a blue circle may be used in conjunction with a fire instructions notice.
Signs indicating mandatory requirements consist of a blue circle with the pictogram or text in white positioned centrally.
A great way to display mandatory signs is through graphic floor markers. For example, you can use either full-circle or half-circle floor markers to highlight areas where Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is mandatory.
A sign giving information on emergency exits, first aid, or rescue facilities (e.g. “Emergency Exit”)
These information signs should be used to indicate escape routes, emergency exits and first aid equipment.
Safe condition signs appear as a green rectangle or square with the imagery or text in white positioned centrally. As is the same way for mandatory signs, some UK fire safety signs in this category are not required by the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996.
For example “PUSH BAR TO OPEN” is not required to comply and there is no imagery with that meaning.
Emergency exits can also be highlighted via graphic floor markers.
Colour / Meaning or purpose / Instruction and information
- Prohibition sign
- Dangerous behaviour; stop; shutdown; evacuate
Yellow / Amber
- Warning sign
- Be careful; take precautions; examine
- Mandatory sign
- Specific behaviour or action; wear protective equipment
- Emergency escape / First-aid sign
- Doors; exits; escape routes; equipment and facilities
Breaching these strict health and safety regulations is a criminal offence. Enforcement by the relevant authorities can result in serious fines or imprisonment as outlined by the Health and Safety Executive.
Action can be taken against companies, individual managers and responsible persons.
Safety signs lessen the likelihood of accidents to employees and non-employees, and therefore creates a safer working environment.
How to Display Your Safety Signs
There are lots of ways to display workplace safety signs. Often they are affixed to walls using screws. However, our Frames4Docs enable you to display safety notices without the need for drilling into walls. With a self-adhesive or magnetic back, you can easily frame and display important safety signs and notices. The clever design also allows for easy insertion and removal of safety notices without the necessity of moving the frame.
Safety signs can also be displayed via our Modulean® Shadow Board system. Using the standardised Board 2 (Notice Board), you can display up to four A4 safety signs or notices. The beauty of Modulean® is you can then add to the modular display in the future, depending on your needs. For example, you could add Board 7 (First Aid Board) or Board 10 (Fire Safety Board) to store important safety products.
Wall safety signs can be supported with floor graphic markers. These can come with symbols and words, just symbols, or as half-circle floor markers.
This is a great solution for when you need to get an important safety message across without going to the extreme of painting your warehouse or workspace floor.
Safety Signs FAQ
For workplaces in the UK, the following safety signs are compulsory to comply with the Health and Safety Regulations 1996: Fire safety signs, Emergency exit signs, Road traffic regulations within the workplace, and Prohibition signage.
Warning signs should be used to make people aware of nearby danger, for example, a flammable liquid store. These health and safety signs are required by the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 and in specific cases by the Dangerous Substances (Notification and Marking of Sites) Regulations 1990.
Red safety signs are used as prohibition signage and dangerous behaviour; meaning to stop; shutdown; or evacuate. Yellow / Amber signs are warning signs, meaning to be careful, take precautions or examine. Blue safety signs mean that a sign is mandatory and that specific behaviour or action should be carried out, such as wearing protective equipment. Green signs signal an emergency escape or first-aid available. Green safety signs can also be used to label doors, such as exits, escape routes, equipment and facilities.