Why We Love Compliant Safety Signage (And You Should, Too!)
Compliance to the Australian Standard is the key to the most effective workplace safety signage.
We are lucky enough to live in one of the best countries in the world with a high liveability ranking and one of the best track records for workplace safety. We have government agencies dedicated to work safety, and employers that are responsible for our health and wellbeing. In a 2002 comparison of established market economies, Australia had the 7th lowest workplace fatality rate, and since then the introduction of the National OHS Strategy’s framework for improving Australia’s work health and safety performance has caused our rates of workplace injury and fatalities to plummet.
These Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) targets and strategies are clearly working to keep Australians from harm on the job. One of the tactics that has led to this decline in work-related injuries is the use of compliant safety signs. By placing safety signs in appropriate areas you can prevent injuries and reduce risks. Safety signs are a simple and effective way to create awareness of hazards, provide direction for what action to take and minimise liability exposure.
What is a compliant safety sign?A compliant safety sign is one that meets specifications outlined in Australian Standard AS1319:1994 Safety Signs for the Occupational Environment. There are many different ways that the same safety message can be conveyed. Instead of “Danger" you could say “Warning", and instead of the colour yellow for a hazardous area you could use red. You could even write your safety message in a hot pink curly font surrounded by glitter. But having a consistent set of designs makes it easier for people comprehend, learn and respond appropriately. This is why AS1319 was created.
About AS1319:1994Effective communication is critical when it comes to safety, so safety signs must be clear and concise. The AS1319:1994 was developed to specify “requirements for the design and use of safety signs intended for use in the occupational environment to regulate and control safety related behaviour, to warn of hazards and to provide emergency information including fire protection information". Like all Australian Standards, it sets out specifications to ensure that compliant safety signs are fit for their purpose and consistently perform in the way intended.
The design of compliant safety signsDesign is the first key to effective safety signage. The sign must present the message in a way that is quickly and easily understood, that highlights the seriousness of the message, and that compels the reader to obey. There are several basic design principles that do this and help to reduce confusion and ambiguity:
- Simple, consistent language
- Logical and limited use of colour
- Legible typography (fonts)
- A layout that guides readers through a logical hierarchy of information
- Not overcrowding or cluttering the space
- Icons and symbols that are universally and easily understood
AS1319 outlines the exact design for each type of safety sign, including colours, shapes, symbols, wording, and even the size of the sign.