Most Important Types of Safety Signs

What’s on the agenda today? It seems that today we’re discussing our preventative signage maintenance programs this afternoon; specifically how we’re going to make sure all of our key safety signage is properly maintained. Well, that sounds criminally dull, doesn’t it? It might do on the surface, but it shouldn’t. This is actually one of the most critical areas of maintenance that any business can undertake since it pertains to some pretty serious legal liability issues if it’s ever neglected.

Signage of all kinds will become worn, damaged, discoloured and otherwise fall into disrepair without proper maintenance. If we’re talking about your shop-front signage, then your brand image will take a hit over that if preventative steps aren’t taken. However, with safety signs the need is even more urgent. To be clear on which kind of signage we’re talking about here, below are the most important types of safety signs and why we have to maintain them.

1. Prohibition Signs

These are the signs that typically start with “No…” and include examples such as “No Entry,” “No Unauthorised Persons Beyond This Point,” “No Smoking,” “No Parking,” and so on. Their typical features include red colour, especially a red circle, but possibly a red triangle, too. These signs have to be crystal clear to all concerned because from your point of view as an operator, you’re trying to prevent people from doing things that might be dangerous and cause injury to themselves or others, injuries that you may become liable for.

A broken “No Entry” sign that has been rendered practically invisible is no longer doing its job. People may enter through that point and bad things could result from that. Ultimately it’s your responsibility for not fixing the sign and warning people of the danger.

2. Warning Signs

A warning sign is not there to prevent some action or to give an order on mandatory behaviour. It is there to appropriately warn people of a present risk or danger. One of the most common examples can be found in yellow triangular signs placed on freshly mopped floors that simply says “Caution: Wet Floor.” Words such as “caution” and “warning” are common here, and the signs are typically black lines on a yellow background.

If you’re running a workplace where risks emerge, then you have to warn not only customers or guests, but your employees as well. If an employee slips on a mopped floor that has no warning sign, or a roof maintenance worker steps through a fragile roof (again, no warning sign) and hurts their leg, you could be liable for that, and the resulting legal actions could cost you millions.

3. Mandatory Signs

These are usually white instructions on a blue background and are designed to remind people that a mandatory order is in effect in a certain place. The sign might instruct you to wear high-visibility clothing, or to wear hard hats, face masks, or something else. The function of the sign is to get the viewer to obey to a condition that has a direct bearing on their health and safety.

These mandatory signs double up as warnings to people that there is a present danger, and the order to obey an instruction is to prevent them from being hurt by that risk.

4. Fire Equipment

On your business premises, all fire equipment has to be clearly and properly marked with red-background signs with white text. They’re usually square in shape, and will be used to denote the locations of things like fire alarms, fire extinguishers, fire blankets, hoses, and more. In the event of a fire breaking out, you want these points to be eminently visible to all concerned.

5. Safe Condition

These typically show people the route to an escape from danger, to a safe location, or to where first aid is available. The most common example is the green “Fire Exit” or “Emergency Exit” signs with the familiar image of someone running from the building.


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