One of the most commonly used type of safety signs are the yellow or amber safety signs which are used to warn the viewer of a particular hazard. There are strict specifications for the design and display of these signs and symbols.
According to regulations, the design of the sign must include a triangular pictogram of the hazard in black on yellow, where the yellow background takes up more than 50% of the symbol but with a thick black outline. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure all staff understand the meaning of all safety signs displayed on the premises even if the sign’s message appears to be obvious to some.
Supplementary text is often useful in adding clarity to the safety message. The older safety sign legislation BS 5499 standard which has now been succeeded by BS EN ISO 7010: 2011 Graphical symbols – Safety colours and safety signs, uses a useful three tier risk level system. BS 5499 identified 3 levels of risk used to define the level of severity of the hazard, Danger, Warning and Caution.
DANGER (High Level of Risk) means if the danger is not avoided, it will cause death or serious injury.
WARNING (Medium Level of Risk) means if the warning is not heeded, it can cause death or serious injury.
CAUTION (Low Level of Risk) means if the precaution is not taken, it may cause minor or moderate injury.
The latest ISO BS EN 7010:2011 legislation has further simplified hazard signs to all read as ‘warning’ relying on the viewer to determine the level of risk. So while all signs are compliant there will be a move towards just ‘warning’ signs over time. At present both forms are acceptable but it is advised that BS EN ISO 7010 and BS 5499 graphical symbols and safety signs should not be mixed within the same workplace. When replacing a sign consideration should be given to this fact.
More information covering the legislation covering Hazard Safety Signs can be found here.