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Essential Safety Signs in the Workplace

Ensuring workplace safety goes a long way in ensuring the trust and performance of your employees. Displaying essential safety signs throughout your workplace is a great way to improve workplace safety.

What are the essential safety signs in the workplace?

There are six types of safety signs in Australia.

  • Prohibition signs
  • Mandatory signs
  • Warning signs
  • Danger signs
  • Emergency information signs
  • Fire signs
No Entry Sign

Must Have Safety Signs in the Workplace

Now let's take an in-depth look into the must-have safety signs in the workplace.

  • Prohibition Signs
  • These prohibit you from doing a particular task, a task that will most probably bring harm to yourself, others around you and the workplace.

    Prohibition signs are usually depicted with a black pictogram in the centre of a red circle, with a red diagonal running across it.

    The most common types of prohibition signs include,

    • No entry
    • No eating or drinking
    • Do not use
    • No smoking
    • Unauthorised personnel are not allowed
  • Mandatory Signs
  • These are the opposite of prohibition signs. They require you to follow certain instructions in the area where they are displayed. These instructions are often vital to ensuring your health and safety.

    Mandatory signs tend to use blue pictograms on a white field. Sometimes, the pictograms can also be either black or blue, usually inside a blue circle.

    Common types of mandatory signs include,

    • Protection must be worn
    • Guards must be used
    • Body parts must be contained
    • Always wash hands
    • Protective equipment must be worn beyond this point.
  • Warning Signs
  • These must-have safety signs in the workplace inform you of upcoming hazards and urge you to exercise caution.

    Warning signs typically come in a yellow field, many of which use black pictograms inside a black triangle as a hazard symbol.

    Common types of warning signs include,

    • Slippery when wet
    • Beware of injury while lifting
    • Beware of flash
    • Beware of vehicles
    • Biohazard

    Note: Depending on the use case, these might come in red and several languages.

  • Danger Signs
  • Danger signs inform you of immediate, life-threatening dangers. Strict caution must be exercised in areas where these signs are displayed.

    These signs typically have white DANGER in bold on top, using a black rectangle and red oval.

    Some danger signs are,

    • Do not enter
    • High voltage
    • Crush zone
    • Acid
    • Toxic

    Note: They might not use pictograms, depending on their intended use.

  • Emergency Information Signs
  • These informative signs are used to alert you about emergency facilities located nearby.

    Most emergency information signs use white pictograms and text on a green field, while others use green text and pictograms on a white field.

    Some common emergency information signs are,

    • Fire/Emergency exit
    • First aid
    • Lifeboat
    • Emergency telephone
    • Assembly area
    • Emergency shower

    Note: The colour green in these signs is a must.

  • Fire Signs
  • Fire signs are used to point to areas where fire alarms of fire fighting equipment are available.

    These signs are depicted using white text and pictograms in a red field. Oftentimes, red colour is used on containers of equipment to coincide with the sign.

    Some fire signs include,

    • Fire alarm
    • Fire alarm (Pull)
    • Fire extinguisher
    • Fire hose, Break glass
    • This extinguisher (A/B/C/D/K)

    Note: The colour red in these signs is a must.

Exit Sign

The Purpose of Safety Signs in Your Workplace

The merits of using well-placed safety signs around your workplace are plenty.

  • Creates a Safe Environment for Employees
  • Employee safety must be the top priority for any employer or business owner. Displaying must have safety signs in the workplace will provide employees with proper guidance and direction when it comes to safety procedures.

    Proper safety signs will instil a sense of safety and security within your employees. This, in turn, will help them perform and function better.

  • For Legal Reasons
  • At present, it has become standard practice for companies to be legally obliged to display safety signs at crucial junctures in the workplace. Failure to adhere to such important laws will not only endanger the lives of your valued employees but will also create dire legal consequences. In addition to legal issues, this will also result in the loss of employee confidence, which will be evident through performance and efficiency.

  • To Educate New Employees and Visitors 
  • New employees and visitors might not have the liberty to go through your extended safety lecture. Even if they do so, it will be pretty difficult for them to memorise all the standard protocols that should be adhered to within your workplace.

    Well-placed safety signs in your workplace will serve as a constant reminder to such groups to adhere to safety guidelines at all times. Such actions will minimise the risk of potential hazards in the workplace.

  • To Prevent Outdoor Accidents
  • Outdoor workplaces such as construction and engineering sites are filled with hazards. Using proper safety signs in these outdoor spaces will help minimise the risk of potential hazards awaiting your employees.

    Note: When using signs outdoors, make sure to weatherproof outdoor labels.

How to Ensure Workplace Safety

Having safety signs strategically placed around your workplace will definitely come in handy in terms of ensuring workplace safety. However, this alone will not be enough.

Here are seven solid strategies you can adopt to ensure workplace safety, according to www.business.gov.au.

  • Identify Hazards in Your Workplace
  • The first step in workplace safety is identifying the surrounding hazards and the risks they pose. These come in three different forms.

    • Equipment 
    • Various workplace equipment, such as heavy machinery and sharp objects, pose a significant threat to workplace safety.

    • Chemicals and other such items 
    • If your workplace is heavy on harmful chemicals such as heavy-duty cleaning material, it's best to have your staff well-educated and trained on the hazards and risks they pose.

    • Activities 
    • Daily activities carried out by employees, such as lifting heavy boxes, come under this section.

    Once you have identified the hazards and risks, you can move on to the next step.

  • Assessing the risk
  • After identifying the risks, pay attention to the probability of someone falling victim to such a risk and what could happen in such a scenario. This will help you adopt the optimum course of action to tackle the issue.

    During your assessment, focus on the following things,

    • The danger posed by the risk
    • How to control the risk
    • Whether control measures are working
    • How soon something needs to be done
  • Control Risks
  • Once you have identified and assessed the risk, move on to control the risk.

    Follow the following guidelines to manage risks in your workplace.

    • Try and eliminate the risk.
    • If the risk cannot be eliminated, try and minimise the risk as much as possible. For this, you can, 
      • Replace the hazard with something safer
      • Physically separate the threat from people
      • Use engineering solutions (A troller to transport heavy boxes instead of carrying them).
    • If risks are still prevalent, implement safe work protocols in your workplace and educate your employees.
    • You can use protective equipment such as hard hats and gloves to minimise the risks further.
  • Review Controls
  • Every once in a while, you'll have to check if your controls are sufficient and working.

    • Review controls regularly to make sure that they are working.
    • Don't wait until something goes wrong to review controls.
    • Review controls after any change in the setup (changes in equipment, settings or personnel).
  • Record and report safety issues
  • Always maintain a proper record of the safety issues and accidents faced by your employees. This will be a great way to assess and identify negative trends in your workplace safety.

  • Worker's Insurance and Return to Work Schemes
  • Providing necessary health assistance to your employees in case of an emergency will be crucial to ensuring workplace safety and good employer-employee relationships.

    For this, you can employ workers' compensation and Return-to-Work schemes.

  • Make Your Workplace Healthier
  • Consider the following health initiatives for your business.

    • Making the workplace smoke free
    • Promoting physical activity
    • Introduce mental health initiatives
High Voltage Sign

Related Questions:

How can I weatherproof safety signs?

To ensure the longevity of your safety signs outdoors, follow these guidelines.

  • Print your safety signs on etched stainless steel or anodized aluminium.
  • Use UV-resistant inks.
  • If they are displayed in low light conditions, consider using reflective ink.

Workplace Safety = Workplace Efficiency

Having a safe workplace translates into having an efficient workplace. Well-placed safety signs coupled with solid safety protocols will go a long way in creating the ideal, safe workplace.

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