There are over 15,000 potential signs that you can find in work places all over the UK. It is certainly an overwhelming number, but most signs offer mandatory protection.
Safety clothing PPE signs indicate when, where, and which type of PPE has to be used or worn on a particular site - safety footwear, ear protection, eye protection, hi-vis clothing, and so on; these blue signs indicate the PPE is absolutely mandatory. They are always indicated as blue circles with white edging and white infographics. Most don’t need to be studied and can easily be identified.
Other signs you may see are prohibition signs that are edged in red with a red slash mark through the black infographic (such as a no smoking sign). Warning signs are yellow triangles edged in black with a black infographic. They indicate danger. Green signs indicate safe conditions. The most common sign is a green exit sign and they are rectangles on a green background with white infographics and arrows (pointing to the exit). These signs indicate escape routes, emergency exits, first aid equipment, emergency showers, and so on. Fire Fighting equipment signs are red rectangles or circles with white infographics. These signs show you where you may find fire fighting equipment.
But which signs go where on site?
Where do the signs go?
The blue mandatory PPE signs are placed in highly visible locations. They are often placed on a large “SITE SAFETY” sign near the entrance of work site. The sign will sometimes have the name of the site manager. The sign will indicate that the following must be worn to enter the site, and will sometimes be accompanied by yellow warning signs, depending on the on-site hazards. You’ll often see “Danger! Construction Site” signs too.
Examples of what these signs may look like on your jobsite:
The sign can be blue with the blue circles edged in white, or sometimes they are yellow, but the infographic remains the same. They will usually say something like: “PPE required on this site,” “Full PPE must be worn,” “Follow standard precautions,” or “Wear personal protective clothing.” The signs will indicate which PPE should be used, and sometimes the name of the item will be listed next to or underneath the infographic for clarification.
What to do when you see the signs
All signs must be observed. If you enter the site, you must be wearing all PPE that the sign indicates to safeguard yourself from hazards. Failure to adhere to the sign’s warnings will endanger you unnecessarily. If you’re in doubt as to which PPE the sign indicates, ask your supervisor for clarification.
Your workplace will be aware of the new PPE regulations, and will ensure you are kept safe if you follow all required steps, so whether you’re told to wear a respirator, a hard hat, site safety boots, safety goggles, or all four, make sure you protect yourself and your health first.
Are the signs necessary?
Safety signs must be used by law if there is an avoidable hazard that can be protected against by using PPE; however, if PPE doesn’t reduce the risk, the signs are not necessary. Employers are required to explain any unfamiliar signs, and tell employees what to do when they see safety signs. Never be afraid to ask what you need to do to safeguard yourself.