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Whether you run your business from an office or a building site, your employees will face a range of risks and hazards each day.
Health and safety signs can help you to reduce risks and give workers vital information about their surroundings.
Read on to find out the common health and safety signs for businesses, plus whether they’re a legal requirement.
Safety signs are bold to attract attention and follow a universal format (explained below) so that people know what to look for. They can communicate risks and hazards quickly by using well-known images and limited words.
As a result, health and safety signage can help to keep your employees safe by alerting them to danger, giving them necessary direction, and showing them where things are in the event of an emergency.
It’s an employer’s legal obligation to use a range of safety signs across their business. All business premises will need signs for emergency exits and fire safety, but it’s likely you’ll need to use extra signs to point out risks that are unique to the work you do.
Most safety and hazard signs are self-explanatory for employees, although some businesses will need to display more complex signs.
Below we explain the differences between the five main types of health and safety signs.
Mandatory safety signs show employees something that they must do, such as:
The key features of a mandatory sign are:
A warning sign shows employees that there is a specific hazard or danger, such as:
The key features of a warning sign are:
A prohibition sign tells employees not to do things that could increase or cause danger, such as:
The key features of a prohibition sign are:
An emergency escape or first aid sign shows employees where they can exit the premises or find medical help in the event of an emergency.
An emergency escape sign usually has an arrow pointing in the direction of an exit.
Meanwhile, first aid signs could point to:
The key features of an emergency escape or first aid sign are:
Fire safety signs show employees where there’s equipment they can use to help put out a fire, such as:
If you work in construction, it’s likely you’ll need to display a lot of safety site safety signs due to the high number of risks.
Here are some examples of common construction signage used to improve site safety:
If you work in one of the following trades, it’s likely that you’ll need a range of health and safety signs when working on a building site:
The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 require employers to display relevant signs in places where there’s a risk or danger that employees need to know about.
Signs can be used to alert employees to a risk that hasn’t been removed or reduced by other methods. For example, if there’s no alternative to using machinery that produces excessive noise, a sign can tell employees to wear ear protection. If a sign won’t reduce the risk of something, employers aren’t obliged to use them.
Employers will need to complete a risk assessment (under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999) to determine when and where to use health and safety signs.
It’s important to note that the regulations cover signs for employees, not visitors such as customers.
Having the right signs in place is just part of the way you can reduce the risk of accidents for your employees.
Although some risks can be managed with signs, others can be covered by insurance, such as:
The combination of compliant signage and a comprehensive business insurance policy can give you peace of mind that you’re protected should the worst happen.
This article is intended as a guide. Always speak to a health and safety professional if you’re not sure of anything.
Conor Shilling is a Copywriter at Simply Business with over two years’ experience in the insurance industry. A trained journalist, Conor has worked as a professional writer for 10 years. His previous experience includes writing for several leading online property trade publications. Conor specialises in the buy-to-let market, landlords, and small business finance.
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