Safety signs and symbols are important safety communicating tools, they help to indicate various hazards that present in plant site or workplace. At the same time, they warn workers to always keep watching out for those hazards by giving required information and safety instructions.
Safety signs and symbols do not only inform the presence of hazards, but also help create workers’ safety awareness. It is very important in reducing accidents in the workplace more obviously in maufacturing, heavy industry and on construction sites but also important in office based environments too.
To get the most out of health and safety signs and symbols, you should choose the right ones for each work location on your premises. Each work area needs different workplace health and safety signs and symbols. This is because each work area has different types of hazard. A risk assesment of each activity or designated area will help identify hazards. Appropriate actions for ensuring safety can then be drawn up and selecting the appropriate safety signs can then be selected. Where possible safety signs shown be changed (at least their location) to keep the safety message fresh and to avoid “sign blindness”.
Safety Signs and Symbols Standards
Safety signs and symbols consist of messages, words and pictorial symbol with variety of sizes, shapes and colours. All the shapes and colours are standardised. Each shape has different meaning and each colour reflects specific meaning.
Using standardised health and safety signs and symbols will make them understandable and overcome language barriers and the new ISO 7010 standard is the first step towards a global harmonization of safety symbols. More indepth infomation can be found at Safety Signs, Symbols and Colour Codes – a simple guide
Safety Signs – Shapes
The shapes of workplace health and safety signs are triangles, circles and squares or rectangles.
i. Triangles: indicates caution (potential hazards) or warning (definite hazards), for example toxic gas and electric shock.
ii. Circles: mandatory or recommended actions and are normally used to depict an action you must do, for example wearing eye goggles and safety hard hats.
iii. Squares or rectangles: shows information, i.e. general information and emergency information (first aid, fire fighting).
iv. A Circle with a 45° diagonal slash across the middle from the upper left to the lower right: points out forbidden or prohibited actions.
Safety Signs – Colours
i. Red signs: designates areas for emergency devices like fire fighting equipment, or to emphasise unsafe or forbidden actions.
ii. Yellow: notifies workers to take caution and be alerted of hazards, reducing necessary risks.
iii. Blue: shows a particular action or behavior, for example instruction to wear personal protective equipment.
Simple pocket guide with at a glance guide to the different colours and symbols used in safety signs make excellent reference material for workplace safety training and can be issued as part of new employee induction training.