Construction site signage is an essential part of any construction project. Construction sites are busy places with many potential hazards, so the use of safety signs helps to alert workers to these hazards and mitigate any risks. 

The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996, set out by the Health And Safety Executive, stipulates which signs are needed and when. This is so construction sites can be safe places to work and helps ensure that building contractors adhere to the law. 

Having clear and concise signage contributes to keeping workers and visitors safe and is important for overall construction site safety. Failing to follow these these safety signs can have serious consequences.

Every construction site will have its own specific hazards. Therefore a comprehensive risk assessment should be completed before any work begins. The risk assessment will identify general hazards, as well as those pertaining to the site or job. It can then be used to determine which signs are needed. Some signs are required by law. Understanding the different types of construction site signs will help you decide when to use them.

Types of construction
site signage

Those responsible for health and safety should know the types of signs and where to place them. However, it’s also vital that all operatives know what all the signs mean and can follow them correctly.

Having too many is advised against, as it can cause confusion. The focus should be on using the right signs and each sign should be clear and easy to read. They should be used after every other reasonable measure has been taken to reduce a risk. For example, in areas with lots of loud noise where the noise can’t be made quieter, safety signs would instruct workers to wear appropriate PPE, such as ear defenders. 

There are typically four types
of signage 

Prohibitions

Safeguards

Warnings

Emergencies

Prohibitions

Prohibition signs make it clear what’s not allowed to happen on a construction site. These types of construction site signs are usually white with a red circle and an illustrative image that is often crossed through. There may also be some accompanying text, such as ‘No Entry’. Some other examples of prohibition signs are:

No smoking

No access to pedestrians

Do not extinguish with water 

No access for industrial vehicles

Safeguards

Safeguard signs are also known as mandatory signs. These give instructions about what must be done to keep workers safe and most often include messaging on the PPE that should be worn. 

Mandatory or safeguarding signs show a white image on a blue circular background. This makes them instantly recognisable. If these construction site signs are on display, then everyone in that area must adhere to them to comply with health and safety. 

Instructions you would see on these signs are:

Safety gloves must be worn

Safety overalls must be worn

Eye protection must be worn

Pedestrians must use this route

Warnings

Warning signs do as you would expect and alert workers or visitors to any hazards in the area. They are recognisable by the yellow and black triangle. The pictogram of the hazard will be black and the triangle will be yellow. These are especially important, because without them there’s a real danger to life. 

Warning signs you can expect to see on a construction site might be:
Low temperature

Overhead load

Industrial vehicles

Danger: Electricity

Emergencies 

These signs should show people what to do or where to go in an emergency. They can also be called ‘direction’ signs. They may include things like fire exit signs so that everyone on site can easily access a fire escape in the event of a fire breaking out. 

Carrying out a detailed risk assessment or heath and safety audit is the best way to determine which safety signs you’ll need for your project or workplace. This risk assessment will identify hazards and then pinpoint which signs are needed.

Rhino Safety are experts in health and safety and can advise business owners, project managers, and site operatives on how to keep their construction sites as safe as possible, and on how to use construction site signage effectively.