Guide To Health And Safety Signs In The Workplace

health and safety signs in the workplace

Table of Contents

Safety signs are governed by Australian Standard (AS 1319-1994). Safety signs in Australia must conform to AS1319-1994. A safety sign aims to warn of potential dangers, provide instructions in the event of an emergency, and govern and control safety-related behaviour.

AS1319 does not say that a safety sign must be made of a certain material or size. However, it emphasises that the type of safety sign utilised should be appropriate for the intended application. 

It is recommended that any signs be:

  • A safety sign must be at least 15mm per metre of visual range, and any upper case should be at least 5 mm per metre of viewing distance in well -lit areas. A safety sign should be placed where it is easy to see. 
  • In low-light or hard-to-see situations, the size of a safety sign should be increased by at least 50 percent. Safety signs should be installed so that they are as close to the observer’s line of sight as possible.
  • Safety signs should be placed against a contrasting background so that piled objects or other visible impediments do not conceal them.
  • Safety signs should be kept in good condition, clean, and well-lit for optimal effectiveness.

 

But what are these Health and Safety Signs in the Workplace Trying to Tell Us? Let’s get familiar with the different safety signals used in Australia.

What Are the Seven Workplace Safety Signs and Symbols?

Safety signs are extremely important in ensuring the well-being of workers in the workplace, and they should be prominently placed in locations where there is a risk of injury occurring.

Here’s a detailed explanation of each of the seven safety signs and symbols in Australia:

Signs for safety in the workplace

Description/Meaning

Symbols

Prohibition signIndicates that a certain action or behaviour is prohibited and not allowed. It is usually a red circle with a diagonal line across it and the symbol or message inside the circle indicating the prohibition. For example, a Prohibition sign with a picture of a cigarette inside the circle indicates that smoking is prohibited in the area.Prohibition sign
Mandatory signSpecifies that a particular action or behaviour is required. It is usually a blue circle with a white symbol or message. Such as, a Mandatory sign with a picture of a hard hat inside the circle indicates that hard hats must be worn in the area.Mandatory sign
Danger signThe presence of this indication implies the possibility of an urgent risk or hazard. It is usually a red triangle with a white exclamation mark and a black message or symbol. For Instance, a Danger sign with the message “High Voltage” indicates a potential hazard from high-voltage electricity in the area.Danger sign
Warning signThis sign denotes a potential hazard that may cause harm if not cautiously approached. It is usually a yellow triangle with a black symbol or message. For example, a Warning sign with the message “Slippery Surface” indicates that the surface is slippery and caution should be taken when walking on it.Warning sign
Emergency Information signIt indicates the location of emergency equipment or the direction to take in an emergency. It is usually a green triangle with a white symbol or message. For Instance, an Emergency sign with the symbol of a fire extinguisher inside the triangle indicates that a fire extinguisher is located in the area.Emergency Information sign
Fire Equipment signIn the event of a fire, this signifies the location of the nearest fire equipment or the route to travel to safety. It is usually a red rectangle with a white symbol or message. For example, a Fire Equipment sign with the symbol of a fire hose inside the rectangle indicates that a fire hose is located in the area.Fire Equipment sign
Restriction signThe purpose of a restriction sign is to set a maximum number of people allowed to engage in a particular activity or use a specific resource. The emblem is a red circle, similar to prohibition signs but without the diagonal slash. In addition, the text would be written in black on a white backdrop, and a black graphic or another symbol would be placed inside the circle. AS 1319-1994 does not specify any specific indicators of this type. However, it does remark that speed restriction signs, as supplied in AS1742.1, are regularly found in the workplace.Restriction sign

What Role Do WHS Signs And Symbols Serve In Australia?

WHS stands for Workplace Health and Safety in Australia. Workplace health and safety refers to the set of rules and regulations to protect employees and others from harm on the job. WHS in Australia aims to ensure that all employees can come to work without fear of harm or injury.

Work Health and Safety (WHS) signs and symbols are governed in Australia by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, which mandates that businesses ensure a risk-free workplace for their employees.

In Australia, Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) signs and symbols play an important part in ensuring a safe and healthy workplace, as outlined below:

  • Communication: Workers and guests in a workplace can benefit greatly from the information conveyed by WHS signs and symbols, which warn of potential dangers and outline important safety procedures.
  • Hazard Awareness: They contribute to a safer working environment by increasing awareness of potential hazards and dangers, such as electrical shock or toxic substances, and they assist in improving awareness of potential hazards and dangers.
  • Compliance with Regulations: Employers must establish and maintain a safe working environment for their employees by the national workplace health and safety law, which is managed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.
  • Reduction of Accidents: WHS signs and symbols in the workplace considerably reduces the likelihood of accidents, injuries, and diseases by raising awareness of potential dangers and encouraging the adoption of preventative measures.
  • Legal Consequences: Legal penalties and fines may be imposed for failing to comply with WHS regulations and employ suitable signs and symbols.
  • Promoting Safety Culture: Safety in the workplace can be encouraged through WHS signs and symbols, which both alert and remind those in or visiting the workplace to be cautious and aware of their surroundings.

Workplace Health And Safety Courses

All employees, supervisors, and managers in Australia must complete workplace safety and health training courses. 

It is vital to consult with local authorities for further information on the exact requirements for health and safety training, as they differ based on industry and jurisdiction. 

However, depending on the nature of the work and the employee’s position, additional specialist courses may be necessary for addition to the mandatory Work Health and Safety (WHS) Induction that all employees are expected to complete. 

To comply with current health and safety requirements, periodic updates and refresher courses may be required.

  • White Card: All Australian construction workers must complete this course, which provides an overview of occupational health and safety in the construction industry. It covers themes like recognising and reporting hazards, comprehending WHS regulations, and employing personal protective equipment.

 

The Steps To Prepare And Obtain A White Card In Australia

  • Research: Research the requirements to get Medicaid in your state or territory and see if there are any special rules you need to know.
  • Course selection: Choose a General Construction Introductory Training (GCIT) course provider approved by the relevant state or territory. You can find a list of approved course providers on the public website.
  • Course Content: Familiarise yourself with the course content, which includes the safety procedures, hazards and responsibilities associated with working in the construction industry. 
  • Study materials: Use the study materials provided by the course providers, including course guides, videos and online resources.
  • Attend Courses: Attend GCIT courses and actively participate in them to maximise your learning experience. 
  • Passed Assessment: A final assessment usually consists of a practical demonstration and a written test.

 

To qualify for Medicaid, international students must complete a General Construction Induction Training (GCIT) course. The white card test is a final assessment, usually consisting of a written test and a practical demonstration, which must be passed to receive a white card. It is important to prepare thoroughly for the exam by studying the course material, attending classes, and actively participating in class to increase your chances of success.

  • Work Health and Safety (WHS): This training is for all employees and provides an overview of workplace health and safety. It includes recognising and reporting hazards, understanding employer and employee duties, and basic first aid principles.
  • First Aid: This course is designed for employees recognised as workplace first aiders and instructs how to respond to medical situations such as heart attacks, strokes, and wounds. CPR wound treatment and how to use first aid equipment are among the subjects covered in training.
  • Manual Handling: This course is designed for individuals who undertake manual duties in the workplace. It includes subjects like safe lifting procedures, identifying manual handling dangers, and using manual handling equipment.
  • Fire Safety: This course is designed for personnel responsible for workplace fire safety and includes topics such as fire prevention, fire extinguisher use, and evacuation protocols.

 

Training organisations often provide these courses, which can be completed online or in a classroom environment. The particular requirements for health and safety training differ by industry and area. Therefore it is critical to consult with local authorities for further information. It is crucial to note that to remain in compliance with current health and safety laws, regular updates and refresher courses may be required.

Who Is Responsible For Workplace Health And Safety

In Australia, the responsibility for workplace health and safety (WHS) is shared by numerous parties, including:

  • Employers: They may be obligated to do risk assessments, provide workers with personal protective equipment (PPE), teach workers about safe practices, and monitor compliance with these measures to ensure the health and safety of their employees on the job.
  • Employees: Individual workers may be expected to report events and risks, wear PPE when necessary, adhere to safe work procedures, and participate in health and safety training.
  • Regulators: The government may be responsible for implementing Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) laws and regulations, conducting workplace inspections, investigating workplace mishaps, and prosecuting non-compliant employers. The following are examples of important authorities:
  • Safe Work Australia: Regarding workplace health and safety (WHS), Safe Work Australia is the go-to resource for advice, information, and direction from the federal government.
  • ACCC: It is a federal government agency with duties for enforcing WHS regulations in some industries and regulating competition and fair trade in the marketplace.
  • State and Territory WHS Regulators: Each state and territory has its regulator in charge of implementing WHS laws and regulations, inspecting workplaces, and looking into accidents that may have occurred there.
  • ASIC: It is a federal government agency overseeing businesses and financial services and enforcing Work Health and Safety regulations in certain industries.
  • Industry bodies: An industry organisation may be responsible for defining guidelines specific to the industry, promoting best practices, and offering training and support to employers and employees. Here are some examples of Australian industrial bodies:
  • AIG: Among the sectors represented by the Australian Industry Group are manufacturing, building, and engineering.
  • Master Builders Australia: It is a trade group that promotes high professional standards in the building industry and helps its members via education and advocacy.
  • Safe Work Australia: It is the responsibility of Safe Work Australia, an agency of the Australian federal government, to promote health and safety in the workplace.
  • NSCA: The National Safety Council of Australia is a non-profit group that aims to improve workplace safety in Australia via education and advocacy.
  • ACTU: The Australian Council of Trade Unions promotes safe and healthy workplaces and protects the interests of employees and their unions.

 

Cooperation between all relevant stakeholders is essential to provide a risk-free and healthy workplace for all employees. Workplace safety relies on open lines of communication and close teamwork to reduce the likelihood of injuries and mishaps.

Workplace Health And Safety Certificate

A WHS certificate is a nationally recognised credential in Australia that attests to a person’s ability to foster and maintain a safe and healthy work environment. Workers in high-risk fields like construction, manufacturing, and healthcare benefit from obtaining a WHS credential because it proves they are prepared to recognise hazards, mitigate them, and deal with emergencies if they occur.

In Australia, you can choose from several WHS certificate programmes, each with its own requirements and areas of emphasis. Some typical topics covered in a WHS certification course include:

Topics Covered

Description

Risk Management

This topic covers detecting, evaluating, and mitigating workplace risks. This process includes identifying risks, assessing the likelihood and consequences of harm, and applying controls to mitigate the risk of harm. 

Workplace Safety

This subject covers the basics of safe work practices such as equipment safety, working at heights, manual handling and electrical safety. It also specifies organisations’ and employees’ responsibilities for ensuring a safe working environment.

Emergency Response

This topic covers procedures for workplace emergencies, such as fire safety, evacuation protocols and first aid. It also highlights the importance of having a clear and defined contingency plan. 

Injury Prevention

This subject discusses principles of injury prevention, such as using personal protective equipment (PPE), principles of ergonomics, and handling hazardous chemicals. It also highlights the importance of supporting healthy lifestyle choices to avoid work-related injuries and illnesses.

It is essential to select a WHS certificate programme approved by a recognised organisation, such as Safe Work Australia, to guarantee that the programme satisfies the requirements and that potential employers will acknowledge the certificate. 

The price of a WHS certificate programme can change based on:

  • The provider, 
  • The mode of delivery, and 
  • The programme’s accreditation level.

 

Various Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) certification programmes are offered in Australia. Each has its own individual set of qualifications and areas of concentration. When pursuing a Work Health and Safety certificate in Australia, the following are some important considerations to keep in mind:

  • Purpose: A Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) certificate proves that employees possess the skills necessary to foster a healthy and risk-free work environment for themselves and their coworkers.
  • Eligibility: While eligibility for a WHS certificate varies based on the programme, those working in safety-sensitive areas such as construction, manufacturing, or health care are often required to have one.
  • Course Content: Risk management, workplace safety, emergency response, and injury prevention are normally included in a WHS certificate program’s curriculum.
  • Delivery: The certificate programmes can be offered in various ways, including workplace health and safety courses online, in-person, and in blended formats.
  • Accreditation: It is crucial to select a WHS certificate programme approved by an authoritative organisation, such as Safe Work Australia, to guarantee that the curriculum meets industry requirements and that potential employers will recognise the credential.
  • Renewal: Certificates in workplace safety and health (WHS) may need to be updated regularly. Individuals may be required to participate in ongoing training or refresher courses.
  • Cost: A WHS certification program’s price tag might change depending on its accreditation, delivery method, and service provider.

 

Obtaining a certificate in occupational health and safety in Australia is highly recommended for those seeking employment in industries where it is critical to ensure employees’ and customers’ health and safety.

Individuals can create a safer and healthier working environment by displaying expertise in fostering a workplace culture of safety and health. You can reach out to an accredited training provider for further information.

Workplace Health And Safety Policy And Procedures In Aged Care

In the field of aged care in Australia, policies and procedures for occupational health and safety should conform to the applicable laws and standards, which may include the following:

  • The WHS ACT of 2011: It mandates specific requirements for both employers and employees to ensure a safe and healthy workplace.
  • Aged Care Quality Standards: These standards define the basic requirements for health, personal, and clinical care in facilities that provide care for the elderly. These standards also outline the need for infection control and staff training.
  • Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare:

 

This code provides direction on the most effective methods for preventing and controlling the transmission of diseases in healthcare settings. 

Key occupational health and safety policies and procedures for aged care in Australia should include:

Policies and procedures Description
Risk assessment and managementEmployers must assess and manage risks to workers and residents, including the risk of injury from manual handling, slips, trips and falls.
Emergency ProceduresEmployers must have procedures in place, including evacuation plans and equipment. 
Infection ControlEmployers must implement procedures to prevent the spread of infection, including hand hygiene, cleaning and disinfection of equipment, surfaces and personal protective equipment.
Employee trainingEmployers must provide health and safety training, including infection control and emergency procedures. 
Incident Reporting and InvestigationEmployers must have procedures to report and investigate incidents and accidents and take corrective action.
Regular safety checksEmployers should carry out regular safety checks to identify and eliminate any health and safety risks in the workplace.

Workplace Health And Safety Signs

Here is a more comprehensive list of workplace health and safety signs used in Australia, along with examples:

Signs MeaningExampleSymbol
Hazard WarningUsed to warn of potential hazards or danger“Beware of Moving Machinery”Hazard Warning Beware of Moving Machinery sign
First AidIdentifies the location of first aid equipment and facilities“First Aid Station” with a cross symbol

First Aid Station with a cross symbol

BiohazardWarns of biological hazards“Biohazard” with a symbol of a skull and crossbones

Biohazard with a symbol of a skull and crossbones

Chemical HazardWarns of chemical hazards“Danger – Corrosive Substance” with a symbol of a flask and an exclamation markWarns of chemical hazards
RadiationIndicates the presence of radiation or radioactive materials“Radiation Area” with a symbol of a radiation warning triangle

symbol of a radiation warning triangle

Electrical HazardWarns of electrical hazards“High Voltage – Keep Out” with a lightning bolt symbol

High Voltage Electrical Hazard Symbol

Hot SurfaceWarns of hot surfaces that may cause injury“Hot Surface” with a symbol of a flame

Hot Surface symbol

Slippery SurfaceWarns of slippery or unstable surfaces“Slippery Surface” with a symbol of a slippery road sign

Slippery Surface symbol

Falling ObjectWarns of potential falling objects“Beware of Falling Objects” with a symbol of a falling object

Beware of Falling Objects symbol

Workplace Safety Signs For Construction Workers And Builders

Here is a table that summarises the safety signals for builders and construction workers.

Hazard

Safety SignSymbol  
UV RadiationSign warning of high levels of UV radiation in the area, indicating the need to wear protective clothing and use sunscreenuv radiation safety sign
Heat StressSign warning of high temperatures or humidity levels, indicating the need to take frequent breaks, drink plenty of water, and use cooling products such as fans or shade structuresheat stress sign
Asbestos AwarenessWarning signs indicating the presence of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), instructions on what to do in case of exposure or disturbance of ACMsWarning signs presence of asbestos
Hard Hat RequiredSign indicating that a hard hat must be worn in a specific areaSign indicating hard hat
Eye Protection RequiredSign indicating that eye protection must be worn in a specific areaSign indicating eye protection
Dogging and RiggingWarning signs indicating the presence of suspended loads, instructions on the proper use of slings, chains, and other rigging equipmentWarning signs indicating the presence of suspended loads
LiftingWarning signs indicating the presence of overhead cranes, hoists, and other lifting equipment, instructions on the proper use of lifting equipment and PPEWarning signs indicating the presence of overhead cranes, hoists, and other lifting equipment
Winter workWarning signs indicating slippery or icy surfaces,the sign indicating the proper use of equipment such as snow blowers or salt spreadersWarning signs indicating slippery or icy surfaces
No SmokingSign prohibiting smoking in a specific areaNo Smoking sign
Hearing Protection RequiredSign indicating that hearing protection must be worn in a specific areaSign indicating that hearing protection must be worn
Concrete, Stone, Wood DustWarning signs indicating the presence of dust hazards, instructions on the proper use of respiratory protection and other personal protective equipment (PPE)Warning signs to use respiratory protection
 

Safety Signs Used By Traffic Controllers

The following is a table that provides a summary of frequent safety signs that are utilised by traffic controllers:

Hazard

Safety SignSymbol  
Stop/SlowSign used by traffic controllers to control traffic and indicate when vehicles should stop or proceed with cautionStop Slow sign
DetourSign indicating a detour route for vehicles and pedestriansSign indicating a detour route
Roadwork AheadSign warning of road work or construction ahead, indicating the need for drivers to proceed with cautionSign warning of road work
Workers AheadSign warning of workers ahead, indicating the need for drivers to slow down and proceed with cautionSign warning of workers ahead
Men at WorkSign warning of workers in the area, indicating the need for drivers to slow down and proceed with cautionMen at Work sign

How To Build confidence and excel in your construction industry WHS training?

By following these steps, you can build confidence and excel in your WHS training in the construction industry:

  • Be prepared: research the topic, collect all relevant information and understand the topic thoroughly.
  • Set realistic goals: Determine what you want and set achievable goals to help you achieve them.
  • Practice: Practise the study material before the actual training session. It can help you feel more confident and reduce anxiety. 
  • Focus on strengths: Recognize your best qualities and build your strategy around those. This will boost your confidence in what you already know and what you can add to your training.
  • Cultivate a positive mindset: Avoid negative thoughts and focus on positive outcomes. This will help you stay confident and motivated. 
  • Seek support: If you feel nervous or unsure, seek support from a mentor, peer or coach.
  • Take care of your health: You must receive adequate sleep, engage in regular physical activity, and maintain a nutritious diet. This will make you feel more confident and perform better.

What Role Does WHS Training Play In Obtaining A Good Construction Ready Package?

There are several reasons why enhanced construction readiness in Australia would benefit from Work Health and Safety (WHS) training:

  • Legal Compliance: Completing WHS training ensures you are familiar with relevant laws and regulations and helps you meet the legal requirements to work in the construction industry.
  • Improve safety: WHS training teaches you how to identify and manage workplace risks and implement safety measures to protect workers and others on construction sites. 
  • Enhanced reputation:  A commitment to safety and compliance shows stakeholders, such as clients and customers, that you are a responsible and professional contractor.
  • Increased Productivity: When employees feel safe and healthy at work, they are likely to put in long hours with few breaks. This translates to less downtime and fewer accidents, which can boost productivity.
  • Competitive advantage:  In a highly competitive market, a strong commitment to WHS can give your construction company a competitive advantage, allowing you to win more contracts and grow your business.

 

By completing a WHS course, you can demonstrate your commitment to safety and compliance and improve the quality of your construction readiness package, which can help you succeed in Australia’s competitive construction industry.

Workplace Health And Safety Officer

The employer normally appoints a Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Officer in Australia. The company can either promote from within or bring in an outside consultant with the appropriate expertise to fill this position.

A Workplace Health and Safety (WHS) Officer in Australia may be responsible for the following tasks and responsibilities:

  • Implementing and maintaining health and safety policies and procedures in line with Australian regulations.
  • Maintaining a culture of safety through routinely inspecting, assessing, and auditing for risks.
  • Prevention of workplace accidents and effective response to crises can be improved through training employees to recognise and respond to hazards.
  • Conducting enquiries into occurrences and mishaps to identify reasons and develop mitigation strategies.
  • Facilitating the creation and implementation of emergency response plans and procedures.
  • Keeping detailed logs of safety-related events, incidents, and audits.
  • Working in tandem with upper management and other interested parties to spread a “safety first” mentality and encourage ongoing improvements to workplace health and safety.
  • Maintaining up-to-date knowledge of occupational health and safety standards, rules, and best practices.
  • Planning and conducting seminars and workshops on health and safety.
  • Identifying potential dangers and deciding what steps to take to mitigate them requires conducting risk assessments.
  • Responsible for guiding management on all health and safety topics, including compliance and enforcement concerns.