How to create effective health and safety signs

Workplace health and safety signs are there to alert and identify individuals who may be in danger. The use of safety signs can facilitate the dissemination of vital information, reinforce existing safety messages, and furnish directions in the event of an emergency.

Employers are required by health and safety laws to post appropriate warning signs when there is a significant risk or hazard in any workplace.The law also mandates that employers ensure their workers are protected from harm on the job by removing or reducing hazards.

This demands that companies take basic precautions for their employees’ well-being and safety on the job, calling for basic precautions, including having adequate health and safety signs.

What are Health and Safety signs

Signs sign that serves to alert people to potential dangers in a particular location or with a specific object are considered safety indicators.

They are displayed to warn people of potential danger or remind them to wear protective gear when necessary. Health and safety signs come in various shapes, sizes, colors, and styles.

Here are some categories of safety signs

Prohibition or Precautionary Signs

These are warning signs posted to show that specific behavior is forbidden. Signs that read “No Trespassing” or “No Trespassing Here” alert us to strictly prohibited conduct.

The symbol is a red circle with a red cut-through superimposed over a black image representing the activity on a white background with black text.

Mandatory Signs

These visual cues convey the urgency with which a directive must be followed. Instructions given by mandatory signage are binding and must be implemented the way they are.

Danger signals

These indicators are meant to convey a warning about a potentially deadly situation. A danger sign identifies the existence of a potentially fatal hazard or circumstance.

Image alt text: health and safety signs. A pictorial sign of a danger sign.

Author credit:By MarkBuckawicki – Own work, CC0,

The danger is written in white letters inside a red oval superimposed black rectangle. There is a white backdrop with black text.

Warning signals

These health and safety signs alert people to a potentially dangerous but not immediate life-threatening situation.

Fire and emergency signs

Warning signs for fires point out the closest fire extinguishers and other safety measures.

The purpose of emergency signs is to send people to the nearest or designated emergency locations like exit plans and location of first aid equipment.

Finally, you may also have general information indicators that provide details on certain practices of a general nature. These may include parking and notice signs. But how do these signs benefit you?

Importance of health and safety signs

While it’s true that all companies recognize safety signs as an integral part of their safety regulations, it’s debatable whether or not every company proactively explores the rationale behind why they’re seen as so


Therefore, many of the most compelling arguments favor installing health and safety indicators.

Visual critical safety messaging

The most hazardous occupations necessitate intensive training programs before work can be done safely. Enforcing health and safety laws in the workplace often requires extensive reading, coaching, and understanding on the side of employees. The importance of safety signs in this set comes in their capacity to convey the most crucial safety information in a style that is easy to read, accessible, and directed.

Safety signs have clear pictographic drawings of the hazard, concise writing directions, and an eye-catching appearance. These color coding features help warn individuals when they enter high-risk settings.

Brings attention to both risks and healthy working practices

It would help if you kept in mind that safety signs’ functions extend beyond those of simple warnings. Also, they allow businesses to remind employees of the most secure and effective ways to carry out their tasks.

Exit signs, first aid kit items or labels, and recommendations on how to operate machinery and deal with fire hazards are just a few examples of what can be communicated by signs.

Some workplaces may even go so far as to commission the design and installation of site-specific safety boards. These would display the location of vital safety resources like first aid kits and fire extinguishers and provide details about the company’s most crucial safety policies or procedures.

It’s an obligation under the law

Simply put, safety signs are required by Health and safety regulations in any workplace, making their installation a crucial part of fundamental regulatory compliance.

If despite taking all reasonable precautions, there is still a serious risk to the lives of workers or others, a warning sign must be posted. The signs must be easy to read, prominently displayed, and in good condition.

Therefore, companies should never discount the value of investing in mandatory signage because failure to do so could result in regulatory fines and severe harm to their brand.

Ensures safety for both workers and the general public

Safety hazards in the workplace may endanger workers and the general public. For instance, in an accident, bystanders at public places like construction sites and farms may be unprepared to deal with the consequences. This is because they lack the same training as your employees and therefore aren’t prepared to deal with emergencies.

To a large extent, this issue can be mitigated by installing safety signs, which alert the public to potential dangers like defective equipment, falling objects, or slick surfaces.The signs warn passers-by of potential hazards and direct them on what they should do next.

Ensures a win-win safety for everyone

According to Health and Safety Executive (HSE), over a million workers in the United Kingdom sustain injuries or illnesses related to their jobs every year, with the associated costs reaching £15 billion in 2016–17.

A lack of workplace safety commitment can lead to low morale and productivity and increased absenteeism. In contrast, a culture built on safety can improve productivity and employee relationships.

Because of this, they can set higher goals for their future accomplishments. So, how can you create an effective safety sign?

A Step-by-Step Guide for Creating Effective Health and Safety Signage

Follow these guidelines to ensure that your facility uses safety signs and labels correctly and by OSHA standards.

Identify every potential risks

The first step is to identify every potential risk in the entire building. It’s not just the main building but also the surrounding neighborhoods and public spaces. It would help if you spotted not only the apparent dangers but also the ones that are unusual, surprising, or hard to see.

Choose or create the appropriate warning labels and signage

When dangers have been detected, you can either pre-existing safety signs or create suitable warning labels. No matter what you decide, you must ensure that all labels and signs comply with OSHA standards. Each area of your building should use the same sign and tag design.

Take care to use the right graphics, wordings and color/hues

Any sign must include “wording that is easily read and succinct,” per the rules. Signage must be legible, so make sure it’s clear what’s being said.

The language should be uplifting rather than discouraging and accurately reflect reality. Warning signs should include pictographs that depict potential hazards and color-coding to convey the severity of the threat to workers.

Ensure adequate placement of signs

If you want people to read your signs from afar, you must put them in the best possible spot, and their placement must bring the most attention possible to the existing risks to be effective.

That said, carefully place all your safety signs and resettle them if you make changes that usefulness or visibility established signals.

Find all of the fire extinguishers and other safety gear

Ensure washing facilities and safety showers can be easily located by posting signs directing people to them. Furthermore, be sure that any fire apparatus has clear labels.

Ensure a proper and effective use of tags

In addition, the OSHA rules provide that “tagging be employed to prevent unintentional harm or illness to personnel exposed to risky or dangerous situations.

Tags must be used until the tagged hazard is no longer present or the dangerous task is no longer performed. If there are already signs, guards, or some other positive kind of security, then tags aren’t necessary.

Re-evaluate your signage strategies on the introduction of new risks

Simply hanging signs and ignoring them won’t get your building up to code. Your sign and tagging program needs regular evaluation to ensure it is still meeting its objectives.

New signs, for instance, must be posted immediately whenever new dangers are added to the workplace. In addition, tags should be placed to alert workers of temporary risks until they are no longer present.


Use cautionary signs to warn employees and customers of any potential dangers in your workplace. Most importantly, your workplace signs should be legible, brief, strategically located, and clearly labeled with the proper colors.