Warning Signs

Every workplace has its hazards, whether it’s electrics, vehicles operating, flammable substances, chemicals, construction site risks or simple trips and slips. Having the right warning signs in place helps ensure the protection of your staff and the public, whilst allowing you to comply with health and safety regulations. Warning safety signs are a type of hazard sign and must be installed and maintained where necessary. Ensuring any risks are clearly signposted will reduce the risk of accidents as staff and the public can be made aware of potential threats to their safety. Employers have a legal duty of care to display sufficient warning symbols and minimise the risk of injuries. If you fail to display the appropriate workplace warning signs, you could face legal action. Read more about warning signs & symbols.

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What are warning signs?

Warning signs are a type of hazard sign and highlight risks that are likely to cause injury or could result in death. Warning signs use a bright yellow triangle with a black border to effectively draw attention. They will also use an exclamation mark, black writing and - sometimes - an accompanying illustration.

It is crucial that appropriate risks are signed by warning safety signs. For example, if your business erects scaffolding, you will need to ensure a Warning Scaffolding Incomplete sign is used during the process. This informs workers that the scaffolding may not be safe to use yet. To learn more, read our guide to the most common types of workplace hazards


Where should warning signs be located?

Warning safety signs should be located in a highly visible location in the area of the risk they refer to. This means warning signs should be free of obstructions (not covered or behind an object that might block people’s view) and as close to eye level as possible (1.5-2m from the ground or floor). Warning symbols should also be installed at the entrance to areas of risks that require personal protective equipment in order to minimise. For example, if there is a specific area of a building site at risk of falling debris, meaning hard-hats must be worn, then appropriate Warning Falling Objects signs and Safety Helmets Must Be Worn signs should be installed before workers reach that area.


Are warning signs required by law?

Yes, warning signs are required by law. They are included in two pieces of UK regulations: the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) regulations (1996) and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations (COSHH). The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) regulations require employers to provide adequate safety signage to highlight risks that cannot be removed through other means. This often means risks that are intrinsic to the operation of the business. In addition, COSHH states that substances that will cause harm and could cause death are marked with COSHH warning signs, signalling the type of hazardous substance and the risks associated with it. In our dedicated guide, you can learn more about the nine COSHH symbols.