Workplace Safety: The Complete Guide to Industrial Safety Signs

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We might not put much thought into it, but signs are an integral part of our everyday lives. They inform us when to stop at an intersection, direct us to the nearest exit, tell us if there are road works ahead, where to ask for information, and whether it’s safe to cross the street.

Besides general information, signs remind us of possible hazards and the measures needed to avoid danger. Especially in industrial settings such as production plants, warehouses, construction sites and similar locations. Their ultimate goal here is to promote workplace safety and reduce the likelihood of potential accidents, injuries, or fatalities.

To do so, workplace signage needs to get the message out with simple and clear-cut wording to everyone on the job site. This includes both employees and visitors. It also needs to be clearly visible in all conditions and all settings.

The use of industrial safety signs in the workplace is regulated by the Australian Standards AS 1319:1994. It also sets the requirement for the design of signs and specifies several sign layouts and classifications. Not adhering to the prescribed rules can lead to hefty fines and legal action in the case of injuries and fatalities. Recent statistics have shown that the number of serious injury claims has plateaued in the last few years (despite more people in the workforce) by enforcing proper safety communication and signage.

Why the Need?

Besides being a legal requirement, industrial safety signs help with day-to-day safety and promote awareness with clear and concise information about potential dangers or hazards. They will also keep the workplace secure and have a vital role in deterring theft.

The signs must be in or near locations and settings that may pose serious risks. Areas with greater risk, such as manufacturing, construction, and mining, can additionally deploy industrial safety signs to educate employees about prevalent dangers. Making sure personnel are properly led during an emergency or crisis is crucial. Moreover, signage is frequently used to educate company safety procedures for new employees, thus each sign needs to be clear and succinct in order to convey the necessary information.

The contribution of these simple objects to workplace security should also be taken into account. For instance, entrance signs are used to bar unauthorised workers from entering a banned area. They have additionally demonstrated efficacy in lowering workplace theft.

What Kind of Types Are There?

Different types of signage are used in Australian businesses, including mandatory, prohibition, danger, warning, and fire safety. Specific examples also exist within a defined industry or setting, such as mining signs, Hazchem, machinery, and traffic signs.


They specify that a course of action or instruction must be followed. They are composed of a white symbol or pictogram inside a blue circle, along with black words on a white backdrop. The phrases “Keep All Cylinders Chained,” “Keep Aisle Clear,” and “Safety Helmet Must Be Worn In This Location” are typical examples.


As the name suggests, these state which actions are prohibited on a specific site. They are easily identified by the white background with black text and a red circle with a line through an image showing a specific action. “No Smoking,” “Mobile Phones Banned In This Location,” and “No Entrance, Approved People Only” are typical examples.

Danger Signs

Use this industrial safety signs to alert individuals to potential life-threatening dangers or dangerous situations. It has the white word DANGER on a red oval, encircled by a black rectangle. It often serves as the heading against a white background. Alternately, it might be on a horizontal sign’s left side. All the words are black.

Examples from the mining industry include “Open Pit,” “Crane Operating Overhead,” and “Chemical Storage Area” in manufacturing. Access to a designated area is also restricted by general danger signage.


Used to increase safety by alerting people of hazards, most consist of a triangle describing the risk and black writing on a yellow background. “Forklifts Danger” and “Pedestrians Watch Your Step” are typical examples.

Fire Safety

These are used to indicate the locations of fire alarms and fire-fighting equipment. Red is the backdrop colour, while any writing or graphics are white. The phrases “Fire Extinguisher” and “Fire Door: Do Not Obstruct” are typical examples.

Other Types

Hazardous chemical indicators warn of the risks involved with using them. They have a squared diamond form, have various coloured backgrounds, and may have a number to indicate the class of chemicals (there are 9 classes in total). The lettering is either white or black. Examples include the white “Corrosive” sign with black text and the red “Flammable Gas 2” sign.

Another sort of industry safety indicator is the restriction sign. It consists of a red circle with any text in black, a white backdrop, and a black pictogram or another legend inside. These are used to restrict activities or the usage of a facility and resemble prohibition indicators but don’t include the slash.

Lastly, traffic signage is employed to ease traffic flow within and around an industrial site or along nearby roads, control speed restrictions, designate parking places, and serve as warnings for industrial vehicles. It may have variously coloured backgrounds and shapes, as well as black letters, pictograms, or numbers. Examples of typical scenarios include “Prepare to Stop” and “Road Train” in or near an industrial plant or on a vehicle.

Recommendations When Choosing

These important elements of an industrial workplace need to be the suitable type for the intended application, the appropriate size, and put in plainly visible areas. In this regard, reflective, double-sided, and luminous alternatives are helpful. Also, the materials must be tough to hold up to working or environmental circumstances.

It is advised that all symbols have a minimum sight distance of 15mm per metre and that uppercase text have a minimum viewing distance of 5mm per metre. For low lighting or viewing situations, this should be increased by at least 50%. Also, whenever possible, industrial safety signs should be posted in the vertical plane directly in front of the observer’s line of sight.

That said, these objects should be positioned in the line of sight, and not obstructed by doors, racks or other objects, nor should they create a distraction or be hazards themselves. They should also be maintained in good condition and kept clean. Any faded, degraded, or damaged symbols should be replaced immediately.

The materials used are not mentioned in the AS1319 standard. That said, industrial safety signs can be made from conventional materials including PVC, polypropylene, and polyester in a variety of thicknesses and finishes using digital printing or silkscreen printing with scratch-resistant ink. Besides being used for tough interior and outdoor situations, aluminium is also preferable in traffic and roadwork signage.

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