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Health & Safety Signs (Safety Signs and Signals Regulations) 1996

The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 require employers to provide and maintain safety signs where there is significant risk to health and safety that has not been avoided or controlled by other means (e.g. safe systems of work) provided that the use of a sign can help reduce the risk. All workplaces and activities where people are employed are covered (with exceptions relating to the transport and supply & marketing of dangerous substances, products and equipment). They also require, where necessary, the use of road traffic signs in workplaces to regulate road traffic. Employers must also ensure that all employees receive appropriate information, instruction and training regarding safety signs. Although most signs are self-explanatory, some employees (particularly young or new workers) may be unfamiliar with the signs used.


A safety and/or health sign is ‘information or instruction about health and safety at work on a signboard, a colour, an illuminated sign or acoustic signal, a verbal communication or hand signal.’ These terms are all detailed in guidance to the regulations.


Large elements of the British Standard BS 5499 symbols will soon be changing. It is planned that symbols and pictograms on safety signs will be standardised across Europe. Many designs may go unchanged, however others will have slightly different designs. Ensure

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