Health & Safety - Signage

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The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) is the body responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare. It is setup to minimise occupational risk and regulate working practices. The use of signage is common in industry to provide guidance to workers relevant to a range of different practices

Signs are categorised into 4 main groups;

  • Prohibition - not permitted (red and white circle)
  • Mandatory - must be followed (blue and white circle)
  • Warning - be aware of danger (yellow and black triangle)
  • Safe Condition - informative for health (green and white square)

Mandatory signs often indicate required PPE, or personal protective equipment, and are found near machinery in workshop environments. Each piece of PPE will relate to a specific assessed hazard that may result from the use of the equipment and be link to a risk assessment document. As the sign is mandatory, any user of the equipment must comply or risk endangering themselves physically

Goggles, protective clothing & protective footwear are often standard procedure upon entering a workshop, however, PPE such as; face masks, gloves and ear defenders are relevant to specific equipment


Safe Condition signs are designed to notify people of potentially life/injury saving  information. They are often only relevant in the event of an incident occurring and aim to minimise the repercussions of a incident. Often signs are manufactured with a photoluminescent smart material to make them visible in low light conditions, with signs such as fire exits also using electric lighting 

Emergency stop signs should be located near each point in the workshop as they can be vital in the event of an incident. First aid and eye wash points should be clearly marked with a sign along with emergency exits


Prohibition signs prohibit the use or doing of a certain specified action by visually representing "Do Not". Commonly they are circular in shape and can feature an 45° angled line through the banned item/activity

Within a workshop environment, often a no admittance sign is used for the preparation room, do not use without supervision & do not touch for any equipment not permitted for student use. Signs for no running, eat and drinking & no naked flames may also be used


Warning signs make people aware of a potential nearby danger. These are distinctive for their yellow colour and triangular shape. They are required by the Health and Safety Regulation 1996 to identify any potential hazards near to someones working environment

Within a workshop these are often found on high voltage electrical distribution boxes and high voltage machinery. Corrosive substances may be used for chemical etching facilities and in the storage of chemicals within a prep room. The danger sign may also be used to warn students


COSHH, or 'Control of Substances Hazardous to Health', is a regulation that ensure employers have correctly managed the use of substances that have associated hazards to human life. In addition,  the regulation known as 'Classification, Labelling & Packaging' (CLP) enforces the use of clear identification on containers of hazardous substances

Labels are much like signs but detail risks specific to the contents of the container. They have a white background surrounded by a red diamond, containing a black symbol detailing the hazardous nature of the substance. They are known as hazard symbols for this reason

Hazards are placed into 3 categories; health hazard, physical hazard & environmental hazard. The symbols have been developed from the old orange versions that were updated in 2009