Safety Signs Gone Mad

November 23, 2017


It is not uncommon in some work places to see health and safety signs on absolutely
everything. But is it really necessary?

The reality is that safety signs should only be used where signifiant hazards exists.
Furthermore, they also only be bought into play if the hazard has not been controlled by other means. Of course, there are some occasions where signs are mandatory (e.g. fire exits etc.) but on the whole employers should be a little more picky as to where they put them.

This means that the sign being in place actually makes a difference to the risk. Blanket signs in place on every conceivable hazard, however minor, is not the way to go.

Believe it or not, there are a set of regulations governing the use of signs in the workplace. The imaginatively named The Health and Safety (Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 set our the do’s and don’ts.

For example, have you ever wondered why the sign telling you that the mandatory PPE signs are blue? Well if you have, it’s because this set of regulations govern not only the use of signs and signals but also what signs should look like. Bear this in mind if you are making your own signage. For example:

Types of Health and Safety Signs


  • Mandatory signs – Indicates a specific behaviour is required (e.g. High Visibility Clothing MUST be worn)


  • Prohibition Signs – Prohibiting a behaviour that is likely to lead to harm (e.g. No Access)
  • Warning Sign – warning of a particular danger (e.g. Electricity)
  • Emergency Escape/First Aid Sign – Giving information relating to escape or first aid.

Remember that these regulations do more than simply indicate the correct type of sign to use. They go on to cover the whole range of signals including hand signals. If you use safety signs and signals within your company you should read the HSE’s guide.  


Consider your use of signs and signals and how you can use them to effectively control risks. Do not just use safety signs and signals   

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