13th August, 2020

The 5 Health And Safety Signs And Their Meanings

There are 5 types of health and safety signs, and they all mean different things. How do you know which type of sign is which? Well, they send their message through shape and colour. Once you know what you are looking for, you can quickly understand the exact meaning of the sign.

The 5 Health And Safety Signs And Their Meanings header image

Health and safety signs are everywhere. At work. In public buildings. On construction sites, in offices, in warehouses, in hospitals, in all kinds of settings. We see health and safety signs daily. Are you at work now? Look around you, can you spot any health and safety signs? Can't spot one, think about a no-entry sign or a warning sign, can you remember the shape and the colour?

Don't worry if you don't know what each type of health and safety sign looks like, or means, just yet. By the end of this post, you will be able to understand each type of health and safety sign when you see one!

There are 5 health and safety signs, and they all mean different things.

The 5 types of health and safety signs are:

Every type of health and safety looks different. Through shape and colour combinations, they can send their message through just a picture or icon. Once you know what you are looking for, you can quickly understand the exact meaning of the sign (even without reading the words).

Here are the 5 health and safety signs and their meanings.

Prohibition Signs

Prohibitions signs are there to tell you not to do something. They are a danger sign, telling you that it is not safe to proceed. And what colour makes you think of danger? Red of course! These signs have a red circle with a red diagonal line through it. The pictogram is black on a white background.

An easy way to remember the shape of prohibition signs is that is a circle, like a full stop. And the sign literally means, stop.

prohibition safety sign

Colour: Red

Shape: Circle

Meaning: Do not, Never, Stop, No

Examples:

Mandatory Signs

Mandatory signs are there to tell you to do something. Consider these the opposite of prohibition signs. These signs are round in shape. The pictogram is white on a blue background. The circle usually has a white border.

Instead of being round for full stop (like prohibition signs), you can remember that mandatory signs are round for 'Obey'. Because that is what you must do, obey them.

mandatory safety sign

Colour: Blue

Shape: Circle

Meaning: Do this, You must, Obey

Examples:

Warning Signs

Warning signs are there to warn you of dangers. Unlike the two previous signs, they don't tell you not to do something, or to do something. They simply aim to make you aware of a danger, so you can protect yourself.

These signs are triangular in shape. The pictogram is black on a yellow background, the triangle has a black border.

warning safety sign

Colour: Yellow

Shape: Triangle

Meaning: Warning, Be careful, Be aware

Examples:

Safe Condition Signs

Safe condition signs can usually be followed to safety. And what colour better represents safety than green? That's right, they are green!

These signs are rectangular or square in share. The pictogram is white on a green background, and will often have a white border.

safe condition safety sign

Colour: Green

Shape: Rectangle

Meaning: Follow, This way, Escape route, First aid

Examples:

Fire Equipment Signs

Fire equipment/fighting signs show you where fire equipment is. What colour do we think of for fire? Red. But we already used red, with the prohibition sign. Well, fire equipment signs are also red, but a different shape.

These signs are square or rectangular in shape. The pictogram is white on a red background, and will often have a white border.

fire equipment safety sign

Colour: Red

Shape: Square

Meaning: Here is the fire equipment, Fire extinguishers, Fire alarm

Examples:


Here's a video that covers the 5 types of health and safety signs and their meanings, for a quick recap.

Now you should know what a health and safety sign means when you see one. Download the free safety signs toolbox talk as a reminder.

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This article was written by Emma at HASpod. Emma has over 10 years experience in health and safety and BSc (Hons) Construction Management. She is NEBOSH qualified and Tech IOSH.

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