All workplaces must be safe and secure. This requirement is even more critical when it comes to warehouse and production companies, which often manage serious workplace hazards.
For a company owner or warehouse manager, there are various ways to enhance safety in the workplace. One of those is the adding safety signs around your property, especially in more hazardous areas.
The importance of safety signs cannot be stressed enough. Not only will they increase the security of your employees, but they can also prevent costly workplace lawsuits and government sanction. Read on to learn more about workplace safety signs today to understand the difference that they can make for your business.
What are Safety Signs?
Safety signs are installed in strategic locations in order to sufficiently inform individuals about specific warnings and reminders relevant to the workplace. Specifically, they seek to warn workers and help them identify areas in the workplace with different hazard levels. These also serve to communicate vital instructions and strengthen messages in times of accidents and emergency situations.
Installing safety signage is mandatory. The Australian government made it a point that all types of workplaces with such hazards need to install signage in clearly-defined locations.
In fact, the government even set standards when it comes to the production, placement, and overall execution of these safety signs. The Australian Standards AS 1319:1994 outlines:
- all the details and requirements for the use and design of the safety signage intended for occupational environment use,
- hazard warnings,
- safety-related behaviours, and
- emergency information.
It must be noted that these aren’t replacements for proper safety and accident prevention measures and training in the workplace. They only supplement the already-existing safety measures. It’s the workplace’s job to do the rest.
Australian Standards AS 1319:1994 Sign Classification and Use
To properly apply the safety signs in your workplace, you need to understand the basics of their utility and classifications. Here are the main classifications of the safety signage according to the Australian Standards AS 1319:1994:
Regulatory signs include those which display instructions in which failure to comply will lead to an infraction. Examples of such infractions include an offence at law, breach of standing orders within the workplace. These are subdivided into three parts:
· Prohibition Signs
These signs indicate that certain activity or action is not permitted in a workplace. Generally, this signage has an annulus and a slash to depict the prohibition over a black symbol or pictogram. The sign wording for this type of signage should always be written in black.
The scope of prohibition signs varies. Sometimes, they are only applicable to a specific area. Sometimes, these prohibition signs cover the whole workplace.
· Mandatory Action Signs
Mandatory signs are those that direct individuals to carry out a specific instruction. An example of this would be the mandatory wearing of helmets and safety gear in the workplace. They often use symbols and pictograms in white over a blue circular background.
Depending on the sign, it may or may not contain any words. Should words be necessary, the text lettering should be in black over a white background.
· Limitation or Restriction Signs
This type of safety sign usually has numerical elements that limit a use or activity in a certain facility. An example of this would be the speed limit within a workplace, especially for warehouses.
Note that there aren’t any restrictions or limitations in place when it comes to the layout of this standard. However, best industry practices dictate that it should be visible, clear, and direct.
Generally, hazard signs depict potential danger or threat within a specific area. Depending on the type of hazard sign, they signify that there’s a hazard in the area that can hurt you (warning signs) or kill you (danger signs). You should familiarise yourself with the two segments under hazard signs:
· Danger Signs
Danger signs serve as a loud warning to employees that certain areas in their workplace can be potentially life-threatening due to hazardous elements or conditions. Typically, a red oval in a black rectangle can be seen in such signage, with a white text in capital letters that say DANGER in bold. To give you an idea, examples include DO NOT ENTER and HIGH VOLTAGE workplace signs.
· Warning Signs
Warning signs are a type of signage that signify an existing hazard that may not be life-threatening but is dangerous nonetheless. According to the Australian Standards AS 1319:1994, such signage should be depicted in black icons and font type against a yellow background.
Emergency Information Signs
Emergency information signs are those that indicate a specific direction or location of facilities related to an emergency, such as safety equipment, first aid, exits, and entrances. This type of signage should feature a white symbol or text over a green background.
· Fire Signs
Fire signs show the location of fire-control and fire-fighting facilities, as well as emergency fire alarms. These signs have a white symbol or text on a bright red background.
· General Information Signage
Although they are not formally referred to in the Australian Standards AS 1319:1994, they are incredibly useful and in demand. Usually, these signs help communicate information, like a reminder or a notice sign. Such signage often has rectangular headers with white text over green or blue backgrounds. The supporting text will be written under the header over a white background.
Guide on the Safety Signage Viewing Distance
Safety signs exist to ensure that employees know the safety precautions they should take within the workplace. Of course, these signs will only work if employees can read them easily. Regardless of how strict you are in enforcing your signage, it won’t amount to anything if your workers are not able to see it properly. That is the reason why viewing distance and signage sizes guides exist.
In Australia, there is also a viewing distance guide alongside the sign classification and use guidelines. Here are the most important things you should note when it comes to the viewing distance guide:
- The lighting, viewing distance, and placement of these signs will determine the required size of your signage. It makes sure that they’re correctly and strategically-placed inside the workplace.
- According to the Australian Standards AS 1319:1994, pictograms and worded signs in a warehouse, a factory, or other workplace should be at least 15 mm in size per metre of viewing distance.
- The text size for all uppercase texts in such signage according to the Australian Standards AS 1319:1994 should be 5 mm per metre of viewing distance.
- For lower case texts, the Australian Standards AS 1319:1994 says that the size per metre of viewing distance should be 4 mm at the minimum.
- If the lighting in the area is not good enough for optimal signage viewing, then the signage and the elements within the signage need to be increased by at least 50%.
Why are Safety Signs Necessary in the Workplace?
As mentioned, safety signs are some of the most vital elements in any workplace. Without these, warehouse managers and employers can’t effectively communicate workplace hazards and warnings to their employees.
As a responsible workplace manager, you must understand that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain when you have safety signs at work. To help you understand why safety signs matter, here are some of the benefits of having safety signage in your workplace:
· It will boost the consciousness of your employees when it comes to workplace hazards.
If you have safety signs in your workplace, your employees will be more mindful of the risks within the workplace. They’ll be able to give more attention to the measures they should take to mitigate hazards. They can become aware of work place standards with the help of these signs, such as things they can and cannot wear, areas that are prohibited, and signs that point to areas of safety.
With the help of these signs, there will be awareness in the minds of your workers. Not only will they understand what the signs mean, but they’ll actively think about what they should do in certain areas since they see these signs on a daily basis.
· It will decrease the number of workplace-related accidents.
Having safety signs is effective in curbing the rate of workplace-related accidents. They work in two parts: On the side of the employees, they’ll be more vigilant about their surroundings, and they’ll know where the hazards in the workplace are usually located. On the side of the employers, they’ll be able to supplement existing safety measures and training programs to increase the awareness of employees when it comes to hazards in the workplace. With both these efforts combined, there’ll be less likelihood for accidents and people will be more prepared when emergencies arise.
· It will reduce the legal exposure of employers.
As an employer, you are responsible for the safety and security of your workers. That means that you have to make sure that you do everything mandated by law (and sometimes even beyond what the law dictates), as you can be legally liable for workplace-related accidents.
Of course, you must still assist your workers if ever accidents arise. But by making sure that you follow these standards for this signage, you will be able to prove that you have done everything within your power to prevent such accidents. More importantly, you haven’t been negligent of your duties as an employer or warehouse manager.
· Having safety signs will lessen your workplace-related accident pay-outs.
Employers will be able to save a lot of money (especially in the long term) with the help of safety signs. This is because, as mentioned above, even if you do everything mandated by law when it comes to enforcing safety measures in the workplace, you may still have financial outlays if accidents arise. By reducing the rate of accidents, you’ll consequently reduce the pay-outs you may be faced with.
Another way these signs can reduce pay-outs is when it comes to workplace-related accident lawsuits. If you are found to have been negligent in providing safety measures like signs and trainings in your company, you may face fines. By being able to prove that you’ve done everything in your power to prevent such accidents, aggravating factors like negligence will be crossed out from your infractions as an employer.
Get on Board with Workplace Safety Now with the Help of Safety Signage!
As an employer or a warehouse manager, you understand just how vital safety signs are. Not only do they keep your workers safe, but they also improve the efficiency of your workplace. Additionally, these signs will help you save money in the long run, especially in the case of pay-outs and lawsuits.
The difference that this signage makes is not subtle or insignificant. Those differences will drastically affect the efficiency of your workers, their behaviour, and the way they know you care for them. People perform better when they don’t need to worry about their safety all the time. Since warehouses and production plants require efficiency above everything else, you should make sure that you prioritise workplace safety and security.
If you think your workplace is lacking when it comes to professional safety signs, make sure to get in touch with a contractor with experience in ensuring workplace safety. Contact Verge Safety Barriers today, and let’s discuss how we can help you.