Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

1.11. Symbolic and other signage applicable to the workplace – legal and organisational requirements

ryanrori February 8, 2021

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Symbolic and other signage may include

  • colour coding
  • mandatory signage
  • information signage
  • warning signs
Colour coding

Hazards and safety signs

One of the ways you can make sure you are safe at work is to obey any hazard warnings and safety signs.

The signs used in your particular workplace will depend on the industry in which you are employed. The use and placement of signs in the workplace should be considered as part of the overall health and safety plan for your workplace.

Four colours are used in safety signage:


Safety signs are used to:

  • draw attention to health and safety hazards
  • point out hazards that may not be obvious
  • provide general information and directions
  • remind employees where personal protective equipment must be worn
  • show where emergency equipment is located
  • indicate where certain actions are prohibited

Colour attracts attention and can be used extensively for safety purposes. For example, colour can be used as an additional safety measure to identify the contents of pipes and the nature of the hazard.

The choice of colour also draws attention to the probability of a hazard causing harm. For example,

  • the colour red is used to indicate a definite hazard
  • a potential hazard is communicated by the colour yellow

When employees are aware of the hazards around them and take the necessary precautions, the possibility of an injury, illness or other loss is minimized. However while safety signs and colours are valuable in warning of hazards, they are not substitutes for eliminating or reducing those hazards, whenever possible.

Mandatory signage

These safety signs indicate that an instruction must be carried out.

The symbolic shape is a blue circle with a white pictograph, e.g. safety goggles, is superimposed to indicate the mandatory activity. The background is white.

Information signage

Information signage is a very legibly printed and very noticeable placard of some kind that informs people of the purpose of an object, or gives them instruction on the use of something, e.g. first aid or fire exit signs. 

General information signs

These indicate the location of, or direction to, emergency related facilities such as exits or first aid equipment. The background is green and the picture is white.

Warning and Danger signs

These safety signs warn of a hazard or hazardous condition that isn’t likely to be life threatening.

The symbolic shape is a black triangle. A black picture usually appears inside the triangle to indicate the specific hazard. The safety sign background is yellow with any text in black.

Danger signs warn about a particular hazard or hazardous condition that’s likely to be life threatening. 

The symbolic shape is the word DANGER in white on a red oval, which is surrounded by a black rectangle. This usually forms a heading for a white background on the sign. Alternatively it may occupy the left side of a horizontal sign, e.g.:

Other signs are: 

Restriction signs

These safety signs place a numerical or other defined limit on an activity or use of facility. 

The symbolic shape is a red circle with a diagonal slash. This also would have a black picture or other legend inside the circle, a white background and any text in black, e.g.:


Fire signs

The picture must be red with a white background.

Remember, site, hazard and risk safety signs must be part of your induction training process as well.