Why health and safety signage is important

Published:  01 March, 2017

According to the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) there were 144 UK workers killed at work between 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016 - 43 took place within the construction industry alone. Danny Adamson responds to the shocking statistics and explains how having the correct signage in place can lead to greater prevention of accidents in the workplace.

In November 2016, the HSE released its annual statistics report with information about workplace-related injuries and illnesses. These statistics showed there were 1.3 million people suffering from a work-related illness, over 621,000 work-related injuries and 2,515 people died from mesothelioma due to past asbestos exposure. 

Accidents are unpredictable, however there is a lot that can be done to prevent them from happening in the first place. One of the key ways of keeping people safe in any environment is using the correct signage.

In the past 20 years, there has been a downward trend in the rate of fatal work-related injuries. In 1992 the safety signs directive was adopted by all European Union member states. In 1996 the changes were implemented through the Health & Safety (Safety Signs and Signals Regulations) act. This required employers to provide specific safety signs whenever there is a risk that has not been avoided or controlled by other means. 

The introduction of Safety Signs and Signals Regulations protects workers and members of the public.  Since then the rate of fatal injury has reduced by over 50%. In 1996 there were 0.9 fatal injuries per every 100,000 workers, today the figure is 0.4.

There is a correlation between the introduction of safety signage and a reduction in the number of accidents.  The first step of ensuring safety to everyone is being able to alert them to danger and having compliant signage in place. Today there is a huge range of signs available for all types of hazards.  Signage is a small investment, but it will encourage safer working environments.

As such, it is essential for businesses to have up-to-date signage.  Enforced by the HSE, if non-compliant signage is being used it could lead to extensive fines or serious consequences including prison sentences, personal injuries or even loss of life. 

Danny Adamson is managing director of Stocksigns Group 

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