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Essential Safety Signs in the Workplace Environment

Safety and emergency signs are crucial to protect the employees and the equipment in any work environment. Primarily, they ensure that the staff and visitors are well aware of the work environment and the potential hazards. Visible safety signs in Australia also help prevent injury caused by dangerous situations. Without these signs, the employees and the visitors would not have the required direction to handle themselves appropriately in terms of crisis. If any accidents occur, the companies or the businesses might face legal charges and workplace health and safety issues.

Australian Standard for Safety Signs

The prominent Australian Standard relating to safety signs is the AS 1319- Safety signs for the occupational environment and AS 2293.1 for safety signs inside buildings. They are designed to warn employees of hazards, control and regulate safety and related behaviour and provide emergency and fire protection information.

Types of Safety Signs Used in Construction Sites and Workplaces

Safety signs in Australia have six categories that perform similar functions across workplaces. By understanding what each type indicates, businesses can choose what they need for their workplace and display them accordingly. The Australian Standard AS1319:1994 Safety Signs for the Occupational Environment has two regulatory signs, hazard signs and informative signs, that instruct people about what they cannot and must do. 

Mandatory Signs

These signs instruct people regarding the things they must do in the area. They hold instructions that every employee and visitor must follow. The mandatory safety signs appear within a blue circle with white symbols. These signs are available in factories and workplaces that require people to don additional protection. For example, workplaces that require entrants to wear additional protective clothing, footwear, eyewear, hearing aid, vest or dust masks could see signs indicating them. Some signs also come with just words in black inside a white rectangular background.

Prohibition Signs 

These signs indicate what the employees and the visitors cannot do. It has a universally recognisable design with black texts/imagery with a red circle and a diagonal line passing through it. It keeps people from entering places where they are not supposed to (trespassing) or prevents them from performing activities that could pose a danger. For example, no smoking signs, no-entry signs, no cameras, no use of mobile phones, no naked flames, or keep out- high voltage, risk of electrocution.

Warning Signs

When spaces are hazardous but not life-threatening, warning signs indicate that, upon contact, people could still get hurt. They ultimately promote safety for all. In Australia, they are easily identifiable by their yellow background with a black triangle addressing hazards. Common warning signs include slippery when wet, hot surface, high voltage, battery charging station, watch out for pedestrians or a forklift operating area.

Danger Signs

Danger signs signify the areas or equipment that could potentially harm or cause death to people. They warn them regarding threatening conditions or hazards that people need to keep away from. The word ‘Danger’ is bold and comes with a familiar red oval inside a black rectangle to alert people about the threat. Common danger signs include high voltage, do not enter, flammable material, confined space, construction site, radioactive material, biohazard etc.

Fire Signs

Fire signs are present in enclosed buildings to indicate where the fire alarm, fire extinguisher, and equipment like blankets and hoses are for emergencies. The safety sign is bright red with a white fire extinguisher symbol to help workers and visitors spot them easily.

Emergency and Safety Information

These signs help employees and visitors find the nearest emergency facilities and equipment. Directions to the emergency exit, first aid kit or emergency phones and automated defibrillators are available around these signs.

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