When it comes to ensuring the well-being of workers and employees in a workplace or establishment, prevention is always better than cure. It not only applies to health but also to how we work.
While there are always solutions to injuries and accidents, it is always better to avoid them in the first place. This is where safety signs and symbols come into play. While it might seem minor, safety symbols are essential in giving additional information to people clearly and concisely.
This article will discuss safety symbols and their importance and application to the workplace. In addition, you will also learn about the different types of safety symbols and how they are used in workplaces, establishments, or public spaces.
What are Safety Symbols?
Safety signs and symbols are recognizable graphic labels representing the general protocol and safety instructions to be followed in various work-related environments.
The appearance of these safety signs and symbols can vary depending on the country or region. However, their general goal is the same: to communicate safety information that transcends language barriers and can be interpreted globally.
The Importance of Safety Symbols
Safety symbols are important because they provide employees, workers, and the general public with specific information that can help avoid accidents and injuries in the workplace. They are usually posted in areas with a potential hazard and serve as a reminder to be careful or to take precautions.
In some cases, safety symbols are required by law. For example, the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has specific regulations on the use of safety symbols in the workplace.
Types of Safety Symbols
There are four types of safety symbols: danger signs, warning signs, mandatory signs, and emergency escape signs.
Danger signs indicate an immediate hazard that will result in death or serious injury if not avoided. These signs are usually colored red to go along with the appropriate pictogram representing the hazard.
Examples of danger signs include:
- Electrical hazard
- Fire hazard
- Chemical hazard
Warning signs are used to indicate a potential hazard that could result in death or serious injury if not avoided. These signs are usually colored yellow to go along with the pictogram representing the hazard.
Examples of warning signs include:
- Slippery floor
- Falling objects
- Machine safety
Mandatory signs indicate that a particular safety measure must be followed to avoid a hazard. These signs are usually colored blue to go alone with the pictogram representing the safety measure that must be followed.
Examples of mandatory signs include:
- Wear safety goggles
- Wash hands after handling chemicals
- Use ear protection in this area
Emergency escape signs indicate the route to safely exit a building or area in the event of an emergency. These signs are usually colored green to go along with the appropriate pictogram representing the exit route.
Examples of emergency escape signs include:
- Fire exit
- Emergency exit only
Globally Harmonized System (GHS) Pictograms
The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) classifies and labels chemicals according to their specifications. The GHS pictograms are symbols used to indicate the type of hazard a chemical poses.
There are nine GHS pictograms (according to Princeton), each representing a different type of hazard. The pictograms are as follows:
- Health hazard
- Flammability hazard
- Instability hazard
- Oxidizing hazard
- Corrosive hazard
- Toxic hazard
- Asphyxiation hazard
- Radiation hazard
- Health hazard: This pictogram indicates a harmful chemical if inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin.
- Flammability hazard: This pictogram is used to indicate a flammable or combustible chemical.
- Instability hazard: This pictogram indicates a hazardous chemical that may react violently or explode if exposed to heat, shock, or friction.
- Oxidizing hazard: This pictogram indicates a chemical that is an oxidizer and may cause fires by providing oxygen for the combustion of other materials.
- Corrosive hazard: This pictogram indicates a corrosive chemical that will damage or destroy living tissue, such as skin, on contact.
- Toxic hazard: This pictogram indicates a poisonous chemical if inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin.
- Asphyxiation hazard: This pictogram indicates a chemical that can cause asphyxiation by displacing oxygen in the air.
- Biohazard: This pictogram indicates a chemical harmful to humans or the environment.
- Radiation hazard: This pictogram indicates a radioactive chemical that may be harmful if inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through the skin.
Tips to Make Your Safety Signs and Symbols More Effective
For your safety signs to be effective, they must be:
- Clear: The message should be concise and easy to understand.
- Visible: The sign should be placed where it can be easily seen.
- Legible: The sign should be easy to read from a distance.
- Durable: The sign should be made of materials that will not deteriorate over time.
Other tips to make your safety signs and symbols more effective include the following:
- Make the language simple, clear, and direct.
- Make the signs stand out for easy identification and recognition, even from a good distance.
- Make the signs and their corresponding purpose known to workers. Remind your workforce of the dangers associated with their work and inform them of your safety symbols and warnings.
- Modify your safety symbols to fit the needs and preference of your workplace. Ensure the signs perfectly fit what you are trying to warn or remind your employees about.
- Update safety signs as needed. The sign should be removed as soon as a safety hazard is eliminated. New safety hazards should have new safety signs.
- Post signs in both English and any other relevant language.
Use DATAMYTE for Safety Symbols Compliance
One of the best ways to ensure your workers comply with safety symbols is to use DATAMYTE’s Digital Clipboard to create a workflow for safety compliance. The DataMyte Digital Clipboard is a workflow automation software that lets you create a safety compliance workflow involving knowing, identifying, and following safety symbols.
With the DATAMYTE, you can create workflow safety compliance checklists that include safety symbols. You can also add safety symbols to your DataMyte Digital Clipboard safety templates and forms for easy identification.
Safety symbols are an important part of safety compliance in the workplace. By understanding what they mean and how to use them, you can create a safer work environment for your employees. So make sure you implement safety signs and symbols in your workplace and follow the tips above to make your safety signage more effective.