Health and Safety Signs and Their Meanings

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Safety or health signs relate to safety or health at work. These signs are intended as a fast and comprehensible way of drawing the employee’s attention to objects, activities or situations that entail certain dangers, or drawing attention to the dangers that persist in spite of preventive measures you have taken.


Moreover, safety signs are intended to indicate the potential type and degree of the hazard that may lead to accidental injury and property damage.


These safety signs are meant to convey a clear and understood message of the precise hazards.



  • Easy to understand and recognizable.
  • Unequivocal/easy to avoid confusion.
  • Every specific danger, every obligation or every prohibition has only one clear sign with its own shape, symbol, color and as little text as possible.


  • Clean up signboards.
  • Routine checkup (that they are capable of performing the function for which they are intended).
  • A guaranteed supply of power or back-up.

Health and Safety Signs and Their Meanings

Types of Signs

There are different types of signs and signals. All have their specific form, pictograms and colors.

The types of signal are given below:

  • Prohibition Signs
  • Mandatory Signs
  • Warning Signs
  • Safety Provision Signs
  • Firefighting Equipment Signs


Prohibition Signs

Prohibition Signs


Most of the systems seek to differentiate clearly between the different categories of information-prohibition mandatory requirements, warnings, and safety provided by the shape of the sign or the background color. Prohibition signs indicate that certain actions are prohibited.


Examples of prohibition signs: No Smoking; Fire, open flame and smoking prohibited; Prohibited for pedestrians; No admittance, authorized personnel only; Prohibited for industrial vehicles; Do not touch.

Intrinsic features:

  • Round shape;
  • The Black pictogram on white background, red edging and diagonal line (the red part to take up at least 35% of the area of the sign).



Mandatory Signs

Mandatory Signs


Mandatory Signs communicate an obligation. These obligations usually relate to the wearing of PPE such as ear defenders, safety glasses, body harness etc.


Examples of mandatory signs are:


Intrinsic features:

  • Round shape;
  • The White pictogram on a blue background (the blue part to take up to least 50% of the area of the sign).



Warning Signs

Warning Signs


Warning Signs provide employees with information about the risks that they may encounter; the risks of dangerous products but also against other risks such as potentially slippery surfaces.


Examples of warning signs are: General danger sign; Flammable substances or high temperatures; Explosive substances; Toxic substances; Corrosive substances and Oxidizing substances.

Intrinsic features:

  • Triangular shape;
  • The Black pictogram on a yellow background with black edging (the yellow part to take up at least 50% of the area of the sign).



Safety Provision Signs


Safety Provision Signs


Safety Provision Signs indicate the availability of equipment or locations for safety emergency exits, first-aid posts and emergency routes.


Examples are: Exit; Emergency exit; Escape route; Emergency and first-aid telephone etc.

Intrinsic features:

  • Rectangular or square shape;
  • The White pictogram on a green background (the green half to require up a minimum of five-hundredths of the sign)


Firefighting Equipment or Fire Safety Signs


Firefighting Equipment Signs


Fire safety sign could be a sign (including associate lighted sign or associate acoustic single) that provided data on escape routes and emergency exits in case of fire; provides data on the identification or location of firefighting equipment; or provides warning in case of fire.


Intrinsic features:

  • Rectangular or square shape;
  • The White pictogram on a red background (the red part to take up at least 50% of the area of the sign)


Condition Of Use Health and Safety Signs

Where signs are used they must be clearly visible and installed at a suitable height. Signs installed in a dark place (e.g. a narrow passage under a staircase) should be made clearly visible with fluorescent colors, reflective materials or artificial lighting.


Keep in mind that safety signs should only be installed in locations where a genuine danger exists! If the danger was temporary and no longer exists, you should always remove the safety signs.


Although the display of safety signs may be mandatory under some national laws they are unlikely to be accepted as the sole means of warning to employees and others. They must be backed up by adequate information, supervision, training and safe systems of work.


In the below YouTube Video you will get a quick recap of the 5 types of health and safety signs and their meanings.

Final Words

Safety and health signs are such an important concept that make common people aware at workplace and public place. As such anyone can understand what to do or not to do because of its simplicity and visuality.


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