Using safety signs in your workplace, is not only a legal requirement in some circumstances, but it can increase hygiene compliance.
Encouraging a clean culture in your workplace can help reduce infections, reduce sickness, and reduce costs.
Find out when you need safety signs, what health and safety signs you need, and how they can benefit your business.
What are safety signs?
Safety signs in the workplace are used to highlight hazards.
There are several studies which show they can increase compliance and encourage hygienic and safe behaviour.
Why safety signs are important in the workplace
Safety signage in the workplace can improve your business in many ways including:
Reinforces safety and hygiene protocols
Safety and hygiene are vital in any business but especially in hospitality and healthcare.
Encouraging staff and customers to behave safely can promote a culture of cleanliness.
Meaning less bacteria is spread in your workplace causing illnesses.
Helps avoid cross-contamination
There are around 48 million cases of foodborne illnesses and part of the reason for this is cross-contamination.
Cross-contamination happens when harmful bacteria are transferred from one place to another. This could be placing cooked food on a surface where raw food was sitting or it could be because of poor hand hygiene.
Safety signs can prevent accidents
There were 1.8 million working people suffering from work-related illnesses, with 135 workers killed in work-related accidents, and 565,000 working people sustaining an injury at work.
If you use signs and other safety practices, then you may reduce the risk of accidents at your workplace. Which would not only harm your staff or customers but cause you added expense and possible legal fees.
Work-related illnesses and workplace injuries meant a loss of 36.8 million working days and an estimated £18.8 billion in the cost of injuries and ill health from current working conditions.
These costs are easily avoidable by having consistent hygiene practices.
Safety sign regulations
As an employer, you must do everything you can to ensure the safety of your employees.
Not only is it a legal requirement, but it can save you money on sick pay if staff are catching infections at work.
The Workplace (Health, Safety, and Welfare) Regulations state employers' responsibilities when it comes to these issues and apply to most workplaces.
- Clear up spillages promptly
- Keep internal walls or ceilings clean
- Provide clean floors and stairs and have effective drainage
- Maintain workplace and equipment so that it’s safe and works properly
- Fix any dangerous defects immediately or take steps to protect those at risk
- Provide clean premises, furniture, and fittings with containers for waste materials.
Employers must also provide safety signs if there is a significant risk that can’t be avoided or controlled in any other way, for example by having safe systems of work or engineering controls.
If safety signs will not reduce the risk, the risk isn’t significant, and employers do not need to provide safety signs.
The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 states:
- Safety signs and signals are required where, despite putting in place all other relevant measures, a significant risk to the health and safety of employees and others remains.
- Signs must be clear and legible and should be used to identify actions that are prohibited, safeguards that must be followed, warning of a hazard, and to direct towards fire exits/equipment or first-aid equipment.
- You should avoid using too many signs which may cause confusion.
Types of signs
There are lots of different health and safety signs you can use in your workplace to improve hygiene and safety and reduce costs.
Wash your hands signs
Wash your hands signs have been shown to increase compliance.
Chefs in fine-dining establishments were less likely to wash their hands after handling meat and fish which can cause cross-contamination and foodborne illnesses.
A recent study by The Behavioural Insights Team in the UK reported that posters with bright, clear designs and an emphasis on the step-by-step procedure of handwashing, worked best for hand hygiene signs.
When signs were used, soap dispensers were used 35% more than those without signs.
Whether you use bathroom door signs to highlight the different bathrooms or bathroom cleaning signs, these can both be helpful to your customers, staff, or pupils.
Signposting stickers on bathroom doors helps people to find where they need to go quickly.
And in a recent study, making the route to the toilets interesting to children, using arrows, rainbows, or other creative ways led to an increase in hand washing.
Using bathroom stickers in schools and other educational facilities can help to make the route to the toilet more exciting.
If you are a food business in retail or catering, you are required to provide allergen information.
Some of the rules you must follow are:
- Provide free food allergy training
- Provide allergen information to the consumer
- Handle and manage food allergens effectively in food preparation
- Have a written notice clearly visible explaining how consumers can obtain this information.
Using signs to highlight the safe preparation of food or how your customers can find out about your allergy practices, is a good way to keep your workplace safe.
Dirty cloths only signs
It is important to ensure your cleaning materials don’t spread bacteria.
You can use a colour-coded system to ensure one colour of cleaning equipment is only used in certain areas to avoid cross-contamination.
Using a colour-coded cleaning system by front-line staff in healthcare was proven to reduce cross-contamination and one hospital reduced their rate of C. difficile to zero.
Separating dirty cloths from clean ones can avoid the spread of bacteria to clean areas and prevent illness.
Separating food preparation areas is important to avoid cross-contamination.
In a recent study, only 32% of people cleaned and sanitised the surface used to prepare raw meat.
Having specific areas for raw meat only, raw fish only, food preparation areas only, or dry food areas, can avoid moving bacteria from one area to another.
Where should safety signs be placed?
Placing your safety signs in specific places makes them more likely to be seen and adhered to.
Places to stick safety signs include:
High traffic areas
Areas such as entrances and exits which have a lot of footfall can mean your safety sign gets the maximum exposure.
Specific work zones
Separating certain areas of your kitchen for specific purposes is a good place to stick signs.
For example, in the raw meat only preparation area. Highlighting this is a raw meat only area may help to avoid cross-contamination.
Areas which are potentially hazardous such as hot surfaces, slippery surfaces, or other risk zones.
Safety signs can highlight the potential risk to people to help avoid accidents.
Bathrooms should always have ‘wash your hands’ signs to encourage people to carry out basic hygiene.
It may seem obvious but faecal bacteria was found on 26% of hands in the UK.
Where to buy safety signs?
At TasteForHygiene, we have a wide range of safety signs that can improve hygiene in your workplace.
Our unique signs are:
- Scratch and tear-resistant.