Safety Signs & Symbols - The UK Guide
Which type of health and safety messages should you use to keep people safe and reduce safety risks?
The Sign Shed's guide to UK workplace safety signs and symbols and their meanings helps you and your business stay safe and comply with HSE, UK and EU guidelines.
Where there is a risk to people, there is a need to prevent accidents, protect from fire, provide health hazard information and help evacuate safely in an emergency.
BS EN ISO 7010 Explained
Industries needed an everyday health and safety signage standard with increasingly culturally diverse workers. The International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) sought a solution to worker safety dangers by introducing European standard safety symbols that workers, including those with disabilities, could quickly identify.
EN ISO 7010:2019 sets out clear rules on the shape and colour of each symbol and eliminates confusion that, in the past, led to the risk of accidents. It is intended to provide the same message to workers throughout Europe. Therefore, employers and workers should use it in conjunction with safe working and accident prevention methods.
Who must comply with safety regulations and display safety signs?
The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require employers to conduct risk assessments to identify and control hazards in the workplace. In addition, the Health & Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) require employers to provide safety signs where employers can use the signage to warn or instruct and help reduce the risk of injury or health issues.
Where there is "no significant risk to health and safety", the HSE advises that it may not be necessary for a business to display a sign, except for certain fire safety signs.
Here's your guide to Safety Sign symbols and colours
What is a Warning Sign?
Warning signs indicate a hazard or a danger to be aware of, such as a chemical danger, an electrical hazard or with our countryside and agriculture sign range, a warning of a bull in a field. These signs appear as a triangular symbol with a yellow background and a black border. As with all of our warning signs, the text is clear and concise in a black, bold Helvetica font.
What is a Mandatory Sign?
Our mandatory signs range complies with the Health & Safety at Work Regulations 1999 and the latest UK and EU legal requirements. Mandatory signs prescribe a specific behaviour. In other words, they tell you that you must do something, such as Drive Slowly, Keep gates closed, or Safety helmets must be worn. The sign must include a round shape blue circle with a white pictogram. As with all of our mandatory safety signs, the text is clear and concise. Mandatory sign text is white in a bold Helvetica font with a blue background.
What is a Prohibition Sign?
All Prohibition signs available at The Sign Shed can be used indoors and outdoors and in various sizes and materials such as self-adhesive vinyl stickers, rigid plastic, or hard-wearing composite aluminium.
Prohibition signs are signs prohibiting behaviour likely to increase or cause danger. They tell you something that you must not do. Prohibition signs feature a black pictogram inside a circle with red edging and a red diagonal line running through it. Our Prohibition signs range features Access Restricted signs, Smoking prohibition signs and general prohibition signs, e.g. Do not use mobile phones. These signs are used in many areas such as schools, colleges, offices, factories, construction sites, kitchens, shops, and agriculture.
What is a Safe Condition Sign?
Safe condition signs indicate the presence of safe exit routes or the location of safety equipment and comply with the Health & Safety Regulations 1996. These signs are on a green background. As with all our safety signs, the text is clear and concise in a white, bold Helvetica font.
So which sign size is best?
The size of the sign needed depends on the location and the distance it needs to be read by a person with good eyesight in daylight. For example, a parking sign needs to be read further away for a motorist than a trip hazard sign for a pedestrian. The general rule is not to choose the smallest and usually cheapest sign possible, as it then negates the point of having a sign in the first place if the text is too small to read!
Our Guide to Safety Sign viewing distances gives good advice if you're struggling to decide which size is best.