Safety Signs, Symbols and Colour – a simple guide

The use of symbols and graphical images is a simple safety system used to convey safety messages at a glance. Colours and symbols appropriately used can provide information and warnings of hazards which are essential to safety at work, and in some instances may be independent of language

The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 require employers to provide and maintain safety signs where there is significant risk to health and safety that has not been avoided or controlled by other means (e.g. safe systems of work) provided that the use of a sign can help reduce the risk. They also require, where necessary, the use of road traffic signs in workplaces to regulate road traffic. Employers must also ensure that all employees receive appropriate information, instruction and training regarding safety signs.  Although most signs are self-explanatory, some employees (particularly young or new workers) may be unfamiliar with the signs used.

WHAT IS A SAFETY SIGN?

A safety and/or health sign is defined as ‘information or instruction about health and safety at work on a signboard, a colour, an illuminated sign or acoustic signal, a verbal communication or hand signal.’

A signboard is a combination of shape, colour and symbol or pictogram made visible by adequate lighting and which may have supplementary text. See the table below to understand the purpose of different safety signs and their properties:

Colour Meaning or Purpose Instruction & Information Intrinsic Features Example
RED Prohibition/Danger alarm Dangerous behaviour; stop; shutdown; emergency cut-out devices; evacuate Round shape; black pictogram on white background; red edging and diagonal line; red part to be at least 35% of the area of the sign  prohibition safety signs
YELLOW or AMBER Warning Be careful; take precautions; examine Triangular shape; black pictogram on yellow background with black edging; yellow part to be at least 50% of the area of the sign  hazard safety signs
BLUE Mandatory Specific behaviour or action e.g. wear personal protective equipment Round shape; white pictogram on blue background; blue part to be at least 50% of the area of the sign  
GREEN Emergency escape; first aid. No danger Doors; exits; escape routes equipment and facilities Return to normal Rectangular or square shape; white pictogram on green background; green part to be at least 50% of the area of the sign  fire safety signs
RED (fire-fighting signs) Fire fighting equipment Identification & location Rectangular or square shape; white pictogram on red background; red part to be at least 50% of the area of the sign  fire safety signs

 

COMBINATION SIGNS

Under ISO 7010 legislation safety signs can be combined to give multiple messages.

Combination sign

This sign gives a hazard warning (yellow) that the site is dangerous. It gives a prohibition instruction (red) that there must be no unauthorised entry and a mandatory instruction (blue) that a course of action must be taken – visitors report to site office.

These multi message signs are ideal for construction sites or garage forecourts where a combination of messages can be delivered in one place in potentially dangerous environments.

 

BARRIER TAPES

Barrier tape can be used where the marking of dangerous locations is deemed necessary (e.g. highlighting the edge of a raised platform or area or restricted heights). They can be used internally or externally to help alert people of a hazard or danger.

We supply a range of different tapes such as reflective hazard warning tapes, self-adhesive photoluminescent tape, graphic barricade tape and pipeline identification tape. Please call a member of a sales team on 01737 774072 to discuss your tape requirements.

Hazard tapeHazard tape

 

ISO 7010 HAS NOW BEEN IMPLEMENTED

Large elements of the British Standard BS5499 symbols have now been changed. The new symbols based on the international standard ISO 7010 have been introduced. The basic principles of understanding safety symbols have remained the same i.e. colour and shape of out line symbol but some of the icons/symbols have changed.

For more advice contact our sales team on 01737 774072 or send us an email.