Demystifying Health & Safety Signs: Top 5 FAQs

Whether you are an employer, freelance or self-employed, the law states that you are responsible for complying with Health and Safety laws and regulationsto protect you, your employees and the public. Failure to comply not only presents danger to those nearby,  the consequences can also include hefty fines and even jail sentencing, as recently seen by discount store Poundstretcher, Ultimate Traders and Otis.

With the number laws and regulations only increasing we have compiled a list of the Top 5 frequently asked questions to help enhance your understanding of health and safety signs at work.

What safety signs do I need to display at work?

This is a tricky question to give a definitive answer to because the signs you need will depend on a number of things, such as:

  • The size of the business
  • The nature of the business
  • Risks present

To understand which safety signs are needed it's advised that you carry out a thorough risk assessment of the workplace to identify all hazards present. When a risk cannot be avoided or controlled by other means employers are required to provide specific safety signs instructing employees on how to remain safe, for example 'No Smoking'  or 'Keep out'.

Read the HSE guide to safety signs and signals for more in-depth information.

Small Businesses: When it comes to managing health and safety at work if you have five or more staff members by law you should have a Health and Safety policy in place. This details who does what and how they should do it!

What safety signs should I display for fire safety?

Legislation requires that almost all non-residential premises have a fire risk assessment carried out. This assessment identifies the correct sign requirements.

There are a number of fire safety signs available and most commercial premises will have the general ones, including:

  • Fire safety equipment
  • Fire alarm call points location
  • Fire escape route(s)
  • Fire Action Notices

Depending on your workplace you may need different signs to those mentioned above. We would recommend carrying out a fire risk assessment to identify which safety signs you need in your building as soon as possible to ensure compliance.

For an idea of the different type of signs for this area, check out our range of fire safety signs


What safety signs do I need to comply with the 'no smoking' legislation?

Those in charge of smoke free premises are required by law to display “no smoking” signs. The sign must be A5 size and display the international no-smoking symbol which should be at least 70mm in diameter.

The no smoking signage must be in a prominent position at all entrances and meet the following requirements:

  • The signage must carry the following words that can be easily read "No Smoking. It is against the law to smoke in these premises." in easy to read characters
  • You may use substitute words for “these premises” to refer to your particular premises, eg “this restaurant" or "this hotel”
  • A sign with only a no-smoking symbol (70mm in diameter) may be displayed as long as one A5 sign is displayed as above and they may be displayed in the following areas:

 - At staff entrances

- At the entrance to smoke free premises, for example a bar within a train station.

Don't forget this rule also applies to smoke-free vehicles and those used for work purposes! In this instance you must display a no-smoking sign in each compartment of the vehicle and it must feature the international no smoking symbol at least 70mm in diameter.

Browse "No Smoking" signs

What safety sign legislation exists for E-cigarettes?

There is a lot of confusion around where you can and cannot use e-cigarettes or personal vaporizers. At present the use of these devices falls outside the scope of smoke free legislation, so it's entirely up to you if you choose to ban these in the workplace! Like anything though there are pros and cons to employees having access to these at work and you should carefully consider these before making a decision. To date they have been banned from use in hospital grounds across Scotland, as well as the likes of Starbucks and Cafe Nero.

We offer a range of no smoking signs to help you make your policy clear on such devices. 

Can I display text only safety signs?

Text-only safety signs are not permitted. Safety signs must contain a symbol or pictogram and may feature supplementary text to aid understanding. Safety signs have very specific requirements for their shape, colour and pattern that makes their message distinct, for example:

With over 10,000 health and safety signs, no matter what your needs KPCM are sure to have what you need, and if not we can create this custom for you! Get in touch today and let us know how we can help you!.

Stay on top of health and safety at work; visit the HSE website for the latest updates!