Proper signage in the workplace is of utmost importance, as it can impact on the safety of employees.

Safety signage plays an important role in a workplace and helps to reduce the number of injuries and life-threatening occurrences by communicating relevant information to employees.

Even if a company has robust safety training programmes and provides courses in health and safety, signage can still help to remind employees about hazards in the environment in which they are working.

In addition, the signs can offer more details on what needs to be done in the case of an emergency, such as the common “exit” sign, or the details of the relevant person to contact in terms of safety-related issues.

For employees to be constantly aware of hazards in their workplace, they need ongoing training. This is where signage comes in handy, as it reinforces messages that have been communicated verbally.

However, signs cannot be placed in just any form, or anywhere. “There are laws governing signage that should be followed,” says Elsa Jacobs, director of ER Signs.

“In order to provide a safe working environment, companies need to work according to the relevant laws, such as the South African National Standard (SANS) specification, the Occupational Health and Safety Act and other Acts relating to mining, construction and road transport. “These guidelines will assist companies to correctly implement signage in a workplace,” notes Jacobs.

“We supply signage to anyone wanting to avoid injuries relating to hazards, which, if they occur, may result in fines from the Department of Labour. Proper signage will help companies to comply with safety guidelines and to provide a safe working environment.

“We offer services to a wide variety of facilities including factories, mines, office blocks and new buildings,” says Jacobs.

ER Signs provides signage on acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic for indoor use and chromadeck sheet metal and baked enamel for outdoor use. These materials are durable and allow for the signs to remain in rough environments and poor weather conditions. In addition, the company offers photo-luminescent signs, which comply with SANS 1186/5 specifications for materials that glow.

According to Safety Signs, there are some issues to consider when sizing and positioning signage. Companies should ask:

• Where is the sign going to be used?

• How much text and how many symbols will be required on the sign?

• How far in advance should employees be warned of a potential hazard?

A company can also help to make signs eye-catching through the use of colour or illustrations and create a similar effect to billboards that are seen on the side of the road. It is also important to consider where a sign will be mounted, how close people are going to be to the sign, and how much information needs to be displayed.

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