Health and safety signage is everywhere, and for good reason. Every business and workplace must ensure that it complies with the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996, to ensure that safety information is clearly communicated where needed. This helps to prevent accidents.
Health and safety signage is required by UK law wherever there is a risk to the health and safety of employees or customers, even if you have taken measures to reduce that risk. The most effective way to determine what signs you need for your business is to conduct a risk assessment.
Safety signage can be divided into five main categories, each of which is defined by a key colour. Recognisable shapes, logos and pictograms are also used, to clearly communicate a message in an instant.
Use this guide to work out the shapes and colours of mandatory signage your business might need.
Health and safety sign colours and shapes
Key colour: red
Key shape: circle
Prohibition signs tell somebody not to do something, or to stop doing something, for example “no smoking”, “no parking” or “no entry”. They are designed to attract immediate attention and signal danger, or potential danger.
Key colour: blue
Key shape: circle or rectangle
Mandatory blue and white safety signs are the opposite of prohibition signs, because they instruct the viewer to do something, or take a particular action. Examples include “keep clear”, “pedestrians only” and “ear protection must be worn”. There are many different types of mandatory signs, and a rectangular format is often used alongside a blue circle and pictogram, to accommodate longer messages.
Key colour: yellow
Key shape: triangle
These types of health and safety signs are triangular, and the attention-grabbing design helps warning signs achieve their main objective: to make somebody aware of a danger, or potential hazard. Examples include “caution wet floor” and “mind the step”. They are essential in any potentially dangerous situation or environment.
Key colour: green
Key shape: square or rectangle
These signs indicate safety and are designed to notify and direct the reader towards safe conditions, for example “fire exit”, “escape route” and “first aid box.
Fire safety signs
Signs that communicate important information about fire safety and equipment usually use red as their primary colour, but depending on the design and messages involved, sometimes feature other colours as well. They can feature both pictograms and text.