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A Comprehensive Guide for Signs in the Workplace

In order to keep up with health and safety requirements, signs are an essential addition to your workplace. They act to provide instruction, orders, information and guidance on codes of conduct around a building. In unmanned environments, they offer this information in a clear way to ensure it can be understood by both permanent and temporary visitors. Signs are one of the most useful additions your workplace can have. Therefore, it is vital that you understand which signs are needed for your business. Alongside this, understanding what each sign means and appropriate sign usage will help improve the overall flow. In this guide, we will cover everything you need to know about signs in the workplace.

Which businesses need signs?

This very broad question can be answered with an equally broad response – nearly all of them. If you manage or run a business, it is likely that signs will help in one way or the other. Properties or work environments with high people foot flow are likely to use signs to minimise the risk of injury. Equally, sites or locations with high waste content may used signs to regulate recycling and refuse disposal. Anywhere where there is an instruction to give, the correct signage can be essential.

What are the different types of signs?

In accordance with The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996, there are 4 main types of sign:

  • Prohibition sign. These signs prohibit specific behaviours that could increase or decrease the chance of a hazard. For example, No Smoking signs.
  • Warning sign. These signs provide a warning of a hazard or danger in the surrounding area. For example, Construction Site signs.
  • Mandatory sign. These signs inform readers of a specific behaviour that must be undertaken. For example, Mandatory Footwear signs.
  • Emergency escape/First-Aid signs. These signs give information about emergency exits, first aid or rescue facilities. For example, Fire Exit signs.

Your business may not need every type of sign. It is vital that you undertake a detailed risk assessment before choosing signs for your building. This will help to highlight the specific hazards presented and give you direction on where to install the appropriate signs.

Sign requirements by industry

When it comes to choosing the right sign for your workplace, it can be helpful to consider the industry you fall into. Different environments present different hazards. Therefore, understanding the ones that are most pertinent to your industry can be a good first step to establishing your needs. Let’s take a look at 4 of the biggest industries here in the UK and the signs you may need in each.


With large equipment, high staff turnover and expansive site locations, the construction industry presents a large quantity of hazards. Therefore, it is likely to be the first thing you think of when we talk about signs in the workplace. Here, signs help to prevent injury and in some instances, death. They are very important and help a construction site stay compliant legally. Some of the main construction site signs you may need to consider include:

The exact requirement for your site depends on size and location. For example, those using kango drill or explosives will need to consider the right Noise Hazard signs to minimise injury risk. Equally, if you’re working on an old building, Asbestos Signs ensure people take the correct precautions. We have written a detailed Construction Signs Guide which provides everything you need to know about minimum requirements. It also covers legislation and how to identify where signs are required.


Businesses based within the NHS have their own specific guidelines when it comes to signs. Alongside this, they must conform with the current legislation including EN ISO 7010:2012. Signs used within healthcare buildings need to be:

  • Durable
  • Easy to understand
  • Highly visible
  • In accordance with British Standards

All of these factors work together to ensure a sign can be read by the vast majority. You have to remember that these buildings generally have high foot traffic. And that the majority of people in them are only temporary (they don’t work at the building but are visiting for an injury, for example). The information presented needs to be easy to read in an emergency. Equally, it needs to discourage any hazardous behaviour instantly.

Examples of this include NHS Fire Exit signs, both general and photoluminescent.


As a major employer in the UK, retail businesses also need to consider the safety signs they have on show. The main hazardous areas within these working environments include:

  • Slipping and trip hazards
  • Manual handling (unloading deliveries and stocking shelves)
  • Workplace transports (delivery vans and forklifts)
  • Violence (both employee-employee and customer-employee)

Again, risk assessments will help to highlight which hazards are most prominent in your building. And signs should be used in accordance with this to prevent injuries. The HSE has a range of downloadable resources to help retail business owners in this field. These include ‘Preventing slips and trips at work’ and ‘Getting to grips with manual handling: a short guide’.

Some of the most vital signs needed in this industry include:


Not industry specific, but it is always worth talking about office-based businesses. Again, these present a unique range of hazards – namely tripping, manual handling and fire safety. As with all the industries above, it is important to undertake a detailed risk assessment. And then, install signs according to the most obvious needs.

Lasting Impressions are experts in the design and manufacture of safety signs for your business. We have worked with businesses of all shapes and sizes, as well as across various industries. If you have any questions about the right workplace signs for your business, get in contact today.