If you own or run a business and it carries any kind of hazard or risk to employees, visitors or passing members of the public then you need to use safety signs to let people know about the potential dangers.
Using safety signs is a very rapid and cheap way of alerting the public and your workers about hazards in certain areas or around particular machines. You can also get customized safety signs to tell people how to minimize the risks to their safety, as well as add-on signs explaining what to do if someone is injured.
Where should these safety signs be used?
Your signs should be used in areas including:
- any areas that feature a risk of injury, including severe and potentially fatal, such as a risk of falling objects, or uneven ground;
- areas where the appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) should be worn; this also applies to machines or tasks that involve risks to the people operating the machinery or performing the tasks. Examples include noisy machinery that could damage hearing – this is where people must put on their ear defenders;
- areas where the hazards aren’t visible or immediately obvious, even to a worker, like radiation, strong electromagnetism or irritating chemicals or vapours;
- areas where vehicles like forklift trucks, mobile cranes and suchlike can suddenly appear;
- any areas that contain or feature potentially dangerous chemicals, goods or substances; this includes toxic chemicals or highly flammable compounds;
- any confined spaces, so people can avoid them if necessary, and
- any areas where asbestos is confirmed, suspected or has been recently removed from.
Six ways you can ensure that your safety signs are effective
By following these tips, you can keep your employees and members of the public safe:
1. Use simple, immediate language
By keeping the message to just a few words, you alert people to the danger immediately. You can expand on the situation elsewhere on the sign if necessary.
2. Make sure the sign is in the right place
You need to place the sign by the hazard, as it’s easy to read it and forget about it by the time you get to the area.
3. Use images as well as words
Use symbols, images and diagrams to back up the words, or in some cases, do their job. Not everyone can read English, or read well at all, so it’s important that you convey your message to everyone.
4. Use vivid colors
In a busy workplace, your safety signs need to stand out and be noticed.
5. Make sure the sign is visible from a distance
The sign should be easily read from a distance so that people can prepare to enter (or avoid) the area that presents the hazard.
6. Make sure workers read and understand all your safety signs
Draw new workers’ attention to the signs, ask that they read them and know what, if any, preparations they need to take to enter the area, operate the machinery or perform the tasks.