5 types of safety signs you will use every day - even if you do not realise it

Safety signs are part of everyone�s lives and are encountered on a daily basis � even if we do not realise. There are also standardised designs and methods to convey particular messages in graphical format, we all know what these designs mean and most people will feel comfortable in deciphering the message. The simple nature of the signs allow for this and enable us to understand what is, or is not allowed in a quick and easy manner.

In many parts of the world the same format is used, although this is often done with a slight local twist. In this article we look at 5 of the most common types of sign that you will see every day and understand � even if it does not register immediately.

Prohibition Signs

A prohibitory sign is possibly the most recognisable and easiest to understand of all the different types of warning and safety signs. It is comprised of a red circle and a red diagonal line on top of a black pictogram, the background is white and the red parts have to take up at least 35% of the total area of the sign. The most common of these signs is likely to be a �No Smoking� sign as since 2007 smoking in public places throughout the United Kingdom has been illegal. You will encounter a �No Smoking� sign in many varied locations, including company cars, workplaces, theatres and public transport. You will also recognise this style of sign on the roads as the red circle is used for prohibitory traffic signs � for example a 30mph maximum speed sign.

Warning Signs

Warning signs are triangular in shape, although depending on their use the colour may be either a red outline and white interior, or a black outline with a yellow base. The red variation is used for traffic warning signs � for example roadworks, ice on the road and flooding, whilst the yellow version conveys a safety message. A common example of these yellow warning signs are ones with an exclamation mark in them. This is a general warning sign that can be used for a number of purposes, for example �these premises are alarmed� or �caution: automatic door�. Other common uses of this sign would be to warn about the use of CCTV or the presence of machinery being used.

Mandatory Signs

With a blue circular background and a white pictogram, mandatory signs are used both in the workplace and on the roads. They are used to tell you what you must do, for example on the roads these style signs are used for one-way systems and mandatory turns. Mandatory signs are especially common in the construction industry, where there are a lot of health and safety guidelines � you will normally see a compulsory hard hat sign upon entrance to a building site. When these signs are accompanied by a message this message will be in white text on a blue rectangular background, situated below the main image.

Safe Condition Signs

All the signs above have been about telling you what you can and cannot do, this is where safe condition signs breakaway from the others. These signs are about telling you something is safe or is the way to safety, often you will see them illuminated or with glow in the dark capabilities. All of these signs have a green square or rectangular body with white symbols and text. The clearest example of a safe condition sign is a Fire Exit or Emergency Exit sign, although you will also see them on a first aid kit.  In terms of signs a green and white sign will normally guide you to safety or demonstrate something is safe, for example water.

Fire Equipment Signs

The final sign that we will highlight in this article is one that signifies fire equipment, these are normally found next to fire extinguishers or fire alarms. These signs are red in colour (the same as fire extinguishers, fire alarms and fire blankets) with white pictograms and text. It is no coincidence that the colour is the same as the equipment it is giving information on � red means fire, so in a tense and chaotic situation you can instantly connect the sign with the event. These signs are used to display the location of equipment that would be used in the event of a fire.

All signs have been designed for a particular purpose and the signs above all follow guidelines on what they should look like, how big they should be and their shapes. Through continuity and familiarity we instinctively understand the meaning of the majority of signs � even if the text is not in our native language. Safety signs are part of our lives everyday but go unnoticed for most � even though we obey their message the majority of the time.

Article provided by Southern United, an expert label manufacturing company based in South East England and serving the whole of the UK for over 70 years.

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