Construction Site Safety

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Present at the entrance to construction sites, safety signs play an essential role in promoting construction site safety and ensuring employees, contractors and visitors know what they need to pay attention to stay safe. Safety signs are also used throughout construction sites to highlight relevant safety procedures and methods of work.

Construction site safety signs are important because construction sites are inherently risky places, with hazards including heavy-duty machinery, chemicals, explosives, electricity, working at height, asbestos and extreme temperatures, to name a few.

While the construction sector’s safety record is gradually improving, in 2020, there were still 61,000 non-fatal injuries and 40 fatalities, so there is clearly more work to be done. Health issues are also a consistent concern with HSE statistics showing 81,000 workers in the construction sector suffered from work-related illness in 2020.

When and where do you need safety signs?

Employers must provide safety signs where there is a significant risk to health and safety that has not been removed or controlled by other methods and a sign can further reduce the risk.

A risk assessment made under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (the Management Regulations) will help employers identify when and where it is appropriate to use safety signs. The risk assessment should identify hazards, the risks associated with those hazards, and the appropriate control measures. Once these measures have been put in place, signs can be used to warn of any remaining ‘residual’ risk and to give people information and instructions on how to stay safe.

All safety signs need to conform to The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 as set out by the HSE.

Examples of construction site signs

There are a number of different types of signs which are commonly found on construction sites, each of which needs to comply with the relevant specifications. These include:

Prohibition signs. These are used to forbid behaviour likely to increase or cause danger. Examples on a construction site might include disallowing unauthorised persons from entering the vicinity or notifying people that there is a no smoking rule on the premises. Prohibition signs are round in shape featuring a black pictogram on a white background with red edging and a diagonal line.

Warning signs are used to alert site personnel and visitors to hazards they needs to be aware of. Examples on a construction site might include signs to warn that construction work is in progress and that heavy plant and machinery is in use. Warning signs are triangular and feature a black pictogram on a yellow background with black edging.

Mandatory signs are used to tell people what they must do. They are often used on construction sites to illustrate that workers need to wear certain types of PPE, such as safety helmets and safety footwear, or to show which route pedestrians should take through the site. Mandatory signs are round with a white pictogram on a blue background. 

Safe condition signs are used to alert people to actions or equipment that can help them. For example, they can indicate safe escape routes or highlight the location of safety equipment such as first aid equipment, emergency showers and fire fighting devices. Safe condition signs are either rectangular or square and feature a white pictogram on a green background.

Site safety notice signs are used to present a range of safety signs on one board. With so much safety information to communicate on construction sites there is a risk that safety signs can end up competing to be seen. Site safety notice signs are designed to enable Safety Managers to display all of the safety information and messages they need to communicate on one easy-to-read board. Bespoke Site Safety Signs with specific logos and/or company branding are also available

Conclusion

It’s important to be aware that not all safety signage is created equal. For example, it can be tempting to print safety signs off yourself, or source them from a generic supplier, but this can result in products which aren’t compliant. As well as the specifications listed above there are several other considerations to take into account when specifying safety signs such as ensuring the correct font types have been used and making sure signs are the right size for viewing distances. Construction site safety signs also need to be made of an appropriate material and contain clear and concise messaging.

A responsible safety supplier will understand these specifications and be able to ensure any safety signage they supply is compliant with latest legislation and suitable for your needs. After all, safety signage may be the first and last thing people see when they come to your construction site so investing in clear and compliant safety signs can help signal a strong health & safety culture and leave a positive lasting impression.

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