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16th May, 2018

Understanding Construction Site Safety Signs

Health and safety signs are displayed everywhere on construction sites, from the site hoarding and entrance points to various locations throughout the site.

If you work on construction sites or have just walked past one, you are likely to have spotted some of these health and safety signs. They come in bright colours, like red, green, blue and yellow.

What are these signs there for, and what do they mean?

Construction site safety signs are not put up for decoration, each sign has a meaning, and each colour represents a different message.

It is important to understand the instructions given to you by construction site safety signs, they are displayed to deliver a clear health and safety message. Failing to understand and follow the instructions given by a sign might mean you lose your job - or your life.

Construction site safety signs are there for a reason. They deliver important bits of information to you, warning you of hazards to watch out for, or requirements that you must obey.

All safety signs have to conform to the Safety Signs Regulations. Being familiar with the different types of signs means we will be able to spot:

  • Prohibition Signs
  • Mandatory Signs
  • Warning Signs
  • Safe Condition Signs
  • Fire Fighting Equipment Signs

So what do the different types of signs look like, and what do they mean?

Prohibition Signs

Examples: Stop, No Entry, No Smoking.

prohibition safety sign

These have a red circle with a cross bar on white background. Any lettering is black.

Meaning: DO NOT. YOU MUST NOT. STOP IT IF YOU ARE.

Mandatory Signs

Examples: Hard Hats must be worn, Keep locked shut.

mandatory safety sign

These have a solid blue circle with a white symbol and/or lettering.

Meaning: YOU MUST DO. OBEY.

Warning Signs

Examples: Danger, High Voltage, Asbestos, Work Overhead

warning safety sign

These have a solid yellow triangle (point up) with a black border. Any symbol or lettering is also black on yellow.

Meaning: YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED, BE CAREFUL, BE AWARE.

Safe Condition Signs

Examples: Fire Exit, First Aid

safe condition safety sign

These have a solid green square or oblong. White symbol or symbol and text.

Meaning: FOLLOW THIS SIGN TO REACH SAFETY.

Fire Equipment Signs

Examples: Fire Alarm, Hydrant, and Extinguisher.

fire equipment safety sign

These have a solid red rectangle with white symbols and/or lettering.

Meaning: HERE IS THE FIRE EQUIPMENT.


Now you should be able to understand construction site safety signs, and importantly, make sure that when you see one, you can follow the health and safety message and comply with the instruction.

Help raise awareness of site safety signs by downloading our free toolbox talk for safety signs, and check out the infographic below as a visual reminder.

safety signs meaning infographic
This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and a degree in construction management. She is NEBOSH qualified and a member of IOSH.

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