The use of symbols and graphical images is a simple safety system used to convey safety messages at a glance. Colours and symbols appropriately used can provide information and warnings of hazards which are essential to safety at work, and in some instances may be independent of language.

The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 require employers to provide and maintain safety signs where there is significant risk to health and safety that has not been avoided or controlled by other means (e.g. safe systems of work) provided that the use of a sign can help reduce the risk. They also require, where necessary, the use of road traffic signs in workplaces to regulate road traffic. Employers must also ensure that all employees receive appropriate information, instruction and training regarding safety signs.  Although most signs are self-explanatory, some employees (particularly young or new workers) may be unfamiliar with the signs used.

What is a safety sign?

A safety and/or health sign is defined as information or instruction about health and safety at work on a signboard, a colour, an illuminated sign or acoustic signal, a verbal communication or hand signal.

A signboard is a combination of shape, colour and symbol or pictogram made visible by adequate lighting and which may have supplementary text.

What are the 4 types of safety signs?

There are four different types of safety signs:

  • Prohibition / Danger Alarm Signs
  • Mandatory Signs
  • Warning Signs
  • And Emergency

Each of these signs has its own colour with different variety of signs.

Safety sign colours

What do Red safety signs mean?

When a sign is Red, it’s usually a prohibitory sign that aims to grab people’s attention for a dangerous situation nearby, such as preventing people from smoking in an area containing flammable materials.

What do Yellow or Amber safety signs mean?

Similarly to traffic lights, yellow or amber signs send a warning to viewers, which is an indication to take precautions in the environment their in. This includes being in an area with dangerous chemicals, high voltage electrical equipment or even to be careful of the step on the street.

What do Blue safety signs mean?

Blue safety signs are mandatory signs which instruct people to undertake an action before proceeding. This could be wearing protective clothing,  keeping a fire door shutt, making sure premises are tidy and applying hand sanitiser.

What do Green safety signs mean?

Green safety signs are informative for the reader to signal safety, directing them to areas such as exit routes, first aid stations and assembly points.

What are combination safety signs?

Under ISO 7010 legislation safety signs can be combined to give multiple messages.

Combination sign

This sign gives a hazard warning (yellow) that the site is dangerous. It gives a prohibition instruction (red) that there must be no unauthorised entry and a mandatory instruction (blue) that a course of action must be taken – visitors report to site office.

These multi message signs are ideal for construction sites or garage forecourts where a combination of messages can be delivered in one place in potentially dangerous environments.

When are barrier tapes used?

Barrier tape can be used where the marking of dangerous locations is deemed necessary (e.g. highlighting the edge of a raised platform or area or restricted heights). They can be used internally or externally to help alert people of a hazard or danger.

We supply a range of different tapes such as reflective hazard warning tapes, self-adhesive photoluminescent tape, graphic barricade tape and pipeline identification tape. Please call a member of a sales team on 01737 774072 to discuss your tape requirements.

black and yellow hazard barrier tape


ISO 7010

Large elements of the British Standard BS5499 symbols have been changed since the introduction of ISO 7010. The basic principles of understanding safety symbols have remained the same i.e. colour and shape of out line symbol but some of the icons/symbols have changed.

For more advice contact our sales team on 01737 774072 or send us an email.


Meaning or Purpose

Prohibition/Danger alarm

Instruction and Information

Dangerous behaviour; stop; shutdown; emergency cut-out devices; evacuate


Round shape; black pictogram on white background; red edging and diagonal line; red part to be at least 35% of the area of the sign

An Example 

1440 Strictly No admittance safety sign


Meaning or Purpose


Instruction and Information

Be careful; take precautions; examine


Triangular in shape ; black pictogram on yellow background with black edging; yellow part to be at least 50% of the area of the sign

An Example 

2813 - warning overhead cables


Meaning or Purpose


Instruction and Information

Specific behaviour or action e.g. wear personal protective equipment


Round shape; white pictogram on blue background; blue part to be at least 50% of the area of the sign

An Example 



Meaning or Purpose

Emergency escape or First Aid

Instruction and Information

Doors; exits; escape routes equipment and facilities Return to normal


Rectangular or square shape; white pictogram on green background; green part to be at least 50% of the area of the sign

An Example 

Fire Exit sign with left arrow

RED (fire fighting signs)

Meaning or Purpose

Fire fighting equipment

Instruction and Information

Identification & location


Rectangular or square shape; white pictogram on red background; red part to be at least 50% of the area of the sign

An Example 

Fire alarm call point landscape layout sign