ABOUT SAVVY SIGNS
We are here to help out small business, or any business in fact, maintain a safe Workplace. We all know it can be quite expensive to set up a new workplace and/or begin complying with the WorkSafe Compliance Code of practice.
It really is easy, and definitely not expensive!
A safety sign is one which gives a specific message to those who may be exposed to hazards in the work environment. They may be to prevent accidents, signify health hazards, indicate the location of safety and fire protection equipment, or for giving guidance and instruction in an emergency.
The most effective signs are clear and consistent, and use diagrams and simple language. Where there is a major language group other than English in the workplace, signs should be in bilingual form.
The meaning of all signs should be taught during induction, but the provision of safety signs does not replace or reduce the need for proper, ongoing prevention measures.
WHY HAVE SAFETY SIGNS?
Following is an extract from the WorkSafe Compliance Code document titled Communicating Occupational Health and Safety Across Languages.
A safety sign is one which gives a specific message to those who may be exposed to hazards in the work environment. Signs may be used to prevent accidents, signify health hazards, indicate the location of safety and fire protection equipment or give guidance and instruction in an emergency.
While clear symbols can aid understanding, the effectiveness of a sign system can be undermined by linguistic and cultural differences and an inability to understand terminology. Risks can arise when employees who are not familiar with the meaning of a symbol or image or cannot read a sign, misinterpret the sign’s meaning. Therefore, education and training are an essential part of any sign system. Employees need to be taught the meaning and intention of signs and their understanding of that meaning has to be checked.
Remember that safety signs do not replace or reduce the need for proper and ongoing prevention measures.
Employers need to use safety signs in a form which can be understood by all employees. Safety signs need to:
- be clear and consistent – the same sign needs to be used to convey the same message throughout the workplace
- be picture or diagram based where there is a standard picture sign that conveys the intended message it needs to be used
- use simple, everyday language – if a sign is set by regulation and is not in plain language, it needs to be supplemented with a simple version or a picture sign.
Ensure that employees are taught the meaning of all signs during the induction process – training needs to include temporary (ie maintenance, cleaning) and permanent signs.
Where there is a major language group in the workplace and written signs are used, they need to be in bilingual form. (See worksafe.vic.gov.au for some translated examples of common health and safety signs.) When more than two languages are required, it is best to use picture-only signs to avoid confusion.
If written signs are used, it is better to pick one form of sign and phrasing and use it consistently.
Another option may be to provide translations of all signs in a handbook or a separate notice prominently displayed in the workplace.