Our guide to the different types of safety signs and which ones you might need

Ensuring that your workplace has the correct safety signs and an adequate amount of them is paramount to ensuring the safety of you and your team. 

What are my responsibilities?

As an employer, it is your responsibility to install and maintain signage when there is a significant risk to the health and safety of your employees. For example, it is your job to ensure that:

  • Road traffic signs are installed and maintained
  • Hazards are given sufficient, clear signage to avoid accidents
  • Educate employees on signs, understanding is crucial. 

Official guidelines on appropriate health and safety signage are detailed in the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996. Whilst Signs and signals can’t be used as a substitute for properly controlled health and safety risks, they are an effective method of preventing employee hazard blindness.

Failing to follow the minimum requirements set out within the office guidelines will mean that you are liable should an accident occur. You could face penalties enforced by the HSE as well as a potential lawsuit. Most importantly however, your employees could face a significant threat to their well-being. 

What are the different types of safety signs?

There are a plethora of styles of safety signs. Each has its own distinct colour code, these are:

  • Red (prohibition signs)
  • Yellow (Warning signs)
  • Blue (Mandatory signage)
  • Green (Emergency signage) 

Prohibition signs

Typically, prohibition signs will be stylized in a red circle with a white cross over the depicted behaviour.

Red signs are designed to prevent dangerous actions. These signs not only warn people about dangerous actions to avoid, they are also effective in preventing unauthorised personnel from entering restricted areas.  

Warning signs (Yellow) 

Warning signs are normally stylized with a black image representing a hazard placed within a yellow triangular sign with a black border.

Yellow signs are designed to warn individuals about passive threats or nearby dangers. For example, Danger: High-voltage. These signs are the most prevalent as they are required by law, set out in the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996.

Mandatory signage (Blue)

Blue signs are the most varied of all workplace signage. They will often contain workplace specific advice or information.

Mandatory signage informs employees about specific instructions that need to be followed. For example, ‘Keep the fire door shut’. Mandatory signage diverts from typical signage styles as they do not use images to convey warnings. Rather, Mandatory signs have detailed instructions set on a blue rectangle. Mandatory signs can also make people aware of specific equipment needed when on-site, such as a hard hat or a hi-vis jacket. 

Emergency signage (Green)

Image of a green fire escape sign
These signs can feature imagery, text, or a combination of the two. They are usually square or rectangular.

Emergency signs are arguably the most important signs to have in any workplace. Emergency signs indicate emergency exits, point to where first-aid can be found, and fire escape routes.

Regulation states that some forms of Emergency signage are required, such as well-marked fire escapes. Some employers note that additional signage will provide an extra layer of protection against emergency situations. 

How do I know that my signs are effective?

Well designed signage will prevent accidents and save lives. Even the most well-trained and experienced staff need reminders to take precautions and protect themselves. As well as this, visitors to your workplace and new employees require visual warnings whilst they get used to the working environment.

An effective sign is easily read, well placed and kept in good condition. Safety signs can become ineffective when workers become ‘blind’ to them and forget to follow instructions. This can be prevented by implementing ongoing safety training, ensuring signs are kept clean, separating them from the background environment as well as other reminders regarding safety procedures.

Designing effective workplace safety signs. 

At Productive Design, we can talk with you to discuss your requirements. Walking you from design to fabrication, our team will ensure that you and your staff are kept safe with effective, high-quality signs. 

Though signage may seem like a small matter, high quality signs demonstrate to your team and the public that you take pride in your company. Signs are often the first thing a potential client will see when walking across your workplace, be sure that you are making a brilliant first impression. 

If you would like to learn more about the general and specialised, bespoke signs Productive Designs can offer, please get in touch via telephone on 01778 343969 or by filling out our contact form and a member of our team will be in touch for a free consultation.