Having a safe workplace is the fundamental requirement for employees of any set-up. As a major step towards ensuring workplace safety, regulatory agencies have mandated inclusion of various kinds of safety signs and directed an international standardisation of these signs. These signs could be in many forms, but all of them serve the same purpose, i.e. to warn the employees about the possible hazard at the workplace.
These signs are classified into different types, and each of them has a clear role to play towards employee safety. Let us have a look at the most important types of these signs:
- Warning signs: As the name suggests, these signs are meant to warn the people about a certain hazard or hazardous operation. The regulatory requirement of a warning sign is that they should be in the shape of an equilateral triangle with a black border and yellow base. The sign should pictorially depict the kind of hazard it is conveying, for example, flammable substances and radioactive material.
- Prohibition signs: This category of safety signs clearly informs the employee about the practices or substance that are prohibited in the premises. These signs typically consist of a red circular shape with a diagonal red line running across the circle as its diameter, and running from top left to bottom right at an angle of 45 degrees. Examples of such signs include prohibition of smoking, carrying ammunition etc.
- Exit signs: As per regulatory specifications, it is mandatory for any business or commercial activity to provide exit signs at all doorways that lead to a means of escape from the building. These signs assume extraordinary importance in case of emergency evacuations.
- Mandatory signs: If the nature of work at a place necessitate adherence to compulsory rules, mandatory signs are used to indicate the same. For example, if heavy machinery is being used, a sign should make it clear that all workers are supposed to wear safety gear like head protection. Similarly, these signs are also used to convey actions required to carry out certain tasks, for example, the ‘Keep shut’ sign at a fire escape door.
- Fire equipment signs: Typically, these signs are used to indicate the location of fire-fighting equipment. They are bright red in colour with the details of the equipment depicted in white. It is a common practice for many businesses to include a fire training course for new employees where they are told about these signs and their significance.
- Safe condition signs: The purpose of these signs is to provide employees with escape routes, locate first aid kits, assembly point etc. Typical safe condition signs are made in a combination of green and white.
In addition to the different types of safety signs that are recommended for use in the workplace, the employee and employer should also know the basic rules and regulations governing these signs. For example, the exit signs are required to be visible to employees all the time. It is also mandatory that signs for escape purposes should have the provision of being illuminated in case of power failure that renders the premises dark and unfit for reading the signs.