It is a legal requirement to clearly mark potential hazards in a work place with health and safety signs. This is to reduce risk of danger, injury or illness for yourself and colleagues. Having health and safety signs to warn of hazards could make the difference between a safe work environment and being sued for negligence if a colleague is injured. Health and safety laws are enforced by the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, a body which will inspect the safety levels of your premises if you work in a hazardous industry.
All potential hazards in a working environment must be identified and risk assessed. The appropriate measures must be installed to minimise the health risk to employees. So, for example, if you identified a low ceiling in your work place, you can mark this with a warning sign to draw attention to the potentially dangerous situation. Safety signs highlight the situation to workers once other measures have been put in place to significantly reduce the hazard. Health & safety signs can be used to warn or instruct; they can give directions of how to avoid a hazard or react to danger in order to protect yourself.
Construction sites are particularly hazardous places to work due to the constantly changing environment, heavy machinery and equipment that is needed. You must risk assess every aspect of the site before work begins and continue to assess the potential hazards as the site changes. Each hazard should be marked with a safety sign. There are a range of health and safety signs that you may require for different scenarios and these are outlined below.
- Warning signs, Yellow: these draw attention to hazards so you can avoid them. E.g. “Danger! Vehicles reversing”
- Prohibition signs, Red: these prohibit certain behaviour to avoid dangerous situations. E.g. “No unauthorised access”
- Mandatory Signs, Blue: commands certain behaviour so hazard is avoided. E.g. “Use crawling boards”
- Safe Condition Signs, Green: identify exit routes and emergency procedures E.g. “first aid Kit”