Safety signs have a special significance for occupational health and safety and can be a tricky business at the same time: they warn of possible dangers, indicate prohibited or required behaviour and can prevent accidents - provided that everyone involved understands what the symbols mean. Below you will find the definition and meaning of safety signs, answers to frequently asked questions, a collection of all common pictograms as well as best practices for the use of safety signs in work environments and public areas.
Safety signs are pictograms that convey safety-relevant information for employees and visitors in companies and public buildings. Symbols that are as comprehensible and self-explanatory as possible are used for this purpose. They point out dangers, ensure safety or give requests for action.
Meaning of safety signs
Safety signs play an important role, especially in the area of occupational safety and accident prevention, because they help to prevent accidents or damage to health. In addition, binding rules and standards ensure that you can carry out labelling uniformly and in accordance with regulations in the company - and that occupational safety and accident prevention are reliably provided at all times.
Regulations and standards
The technical rules for workplaces define the regulations and standards for the respective signs and badges. With our labels, the currently required clear labelling is fulfilled and international standards are met.
When must a safety label be present?
A safety sign must be present at the workplace if any commands, prohibitions and other instructions relevant to safety standards are to be permanently observed and complied with. However, danger signs and warning signs should only be used if no other, more suitable safety measures are available. Barriers, lockout-tagout systems etc. should nevertheless be used, as safety signs should under no circumstances replace these safety measures, but only supplement them.
Which symbols are required for occupational safety in the workplace?
To know which symbols should be present in your workplace, you need to carry out a comprehensive risk assessment. Assessments should be carried out for each activity and workplace to ensure that you identify all potential hazards. Once this information is available, you will know where your employees need to be reminded about safety.
From the prohibition sign to the hazardous substance symbol: an overview of the most important types
Safety labels are divided into different categories:
Prohibition signs are used in companies to protect employees or other persons from occupational accidents on the company premises and to prevent behaviour that could trigger a hazard. Properly installed prohibition signs increase occupational safety in the company.
Shape and colour
Prohibition signs show prohibitions or restrictions
Secure your company and premises professionally with mandatory signs for more safety at work. Mandatory signs quickly convey the necessary information or instructions, for example, machines in production, clean areas in the food industry, for motor vehicles, construction sites and many other work areas where compliance with safety regulations must be ensured.
Shape and Colour
Mandatory signs show indications of the necessary behaviour
Warning signs increase attentiveness and warn of possible dangers and obstacles. They should be placed clearly visible at the danger points to prevent serious accidents and expensive downtime. Warning stickers or warning signs are suitable for marking production facilities and production lines as well as in warehouses, workshops or laboratories. Warning signs can be combined with short texts for even better understanding.
Escape routes and emergency exits must be clearly marked and easily recognisable and visible even in the dark. With escape signs, you ensure quick orientation in an emergency. Photoluminescent signs are suitable for this purpose, among others, to mark your escape routes, showing employees and visitors a safe escape route in case of emergency. Signage of important emergency facilities such as "emergency telephone" or "defibrillator" are also part of an escape signage system.
Shape and colour
Escape signs show the way to rescue resources or facilities
Marking with fire safety signs and fire protection signs is an essential measure to ensure the correct behaviour in case of fire. Because in case of fire, every second counts: fire safety signs can often make the difference between life and death. Effectively implement operational fire protection and mark important equipment such as fire extinguishers, fire doors, fire detectors, etc. to increase safety in your company.
Shape and colour
Fire protection signs provide information on aids and behaviour in case of fire
The GHS and CLP regulations require the labelling of hazardous substances with symbols that are standardised in Europe. The labelling of hazardous substances is necessary at all workplaces in the production, storage, transport and use of hazardous substances. Flammable, toxic, corrosive or harmful substances and chemicals are declared by signs, labels or hazardous substance symbols indicating the danger.
Shape and colour
Labelling and classification of hazardous substances and chemicals
Red-edged rhombus with black symbol on white background
In order to ensure the greatest possible safety during operation, it is not only the right choice of symbol for the danger points that is crucial, but also the size of the sign. This depends on the local conditions: depending on the space and lighting conditions, there are different recognition ranges. The optimum is achieved when the shape, colour, size and symbol are clearly visible. In changing light conditions, care should be taken to ensure that the signs are permanently illuminated, reflective or fluorescent.
Easy to remember: The greater the distance from which visibility is to be given, the larger the symbol sign must be.
In addition to the appropriate size, you should also ensure that the number plates always remain uncovered and thus visible: dirt, snow or vehicles and equipment should be removed immediately.
Best practices for the use of safety signs in working environments and public areas
The following are recommended practices and tips for the use of safety signs in work environments and public areas.
After a while, employees become so familiar with the safety signs that they can only be seen in the background. To avoid this "sign blindness", safety experts recommend changing the location of the signs from time to time so that the safety message remains in the foreground.
Keep things simple by distributing signs sensibly within an area and avoiding clusters of signs. Too many signs in a pile overwhelm employees with information and make them less likely to look closely.
Provide regular refresher training to ensure that every employee is familiar with the symbols and their meaning. Remember that safety signs only work if they are understood by everyone.
Reporting of incidents
Often, especially smaller, safety-relevant incidents are poorly documented or not documented at all. Therefore, report any occupational safety incidents to your responsible manager - this increases the likelihood of avoiding the source of errors in the future through newly installed safety signs.
Check hazards consistently
Regular risk assessments are indispensable for occupational safety. They are used to check which hazards are associated with a certain activity in the company. Therefore, consistently check where hazards arise in the company and limit them to a minimum with the help of safety signs.
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The specialist information on this page has been compiled carefully and to the best of our knowledge and belief. Nevertheless, DENIOS Ltd cannot assume any warranty or liability of any kind, whether in contract, tort or otherwise, for the topicality, completeness and correctness either towards the reader or towards third parties. The use of the information and content for your own or third party purposes is therefore at your own risk. In any case, please observe the locally and currently applicable legislation.