Hazards can easily arise on a construction site. This means that health and safety standards are incredibly important to ensure workers, and the public, are alert to the potential hazards to avoid injury and damage. In many cases, it is mandatory for construction sites to have clearly displayed safety signage in various areas around the site.

There are two pieces of legislation regarding construction site signage: The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 (HSR) and The Regulatory Reform Fire Safety Order 2005 (RRFSO). Both of these require construction sites to display various types of signage to help keep the workforce, workplace and the public safe from harm.

In this guide, we’ll discuss the different types of safety signage which are required on a construction site, and share guidance on how to implement them appropriately.

Warehouse floor with projected yellow forklift warning sign on the floor.

What are the different types of construction site signage?

There are five main types of signage that are typically used on a construction site: 

  • Mandatory Signs
  • Warning Signs
  • Prohibition Signs
  • Safe Conditions Signs
  • Fire Safety Signs

It is essential that your workforce is made aware of these and their meaning. This can prevent avoidable injury and damage and ensure that workers are carrying out their duties in the safest possible way. 

Another type of signage that is also commonly used on a construction site is directional signs. Although these are not mandatory, they are particularly useful for larger sites, enabling the workforce to easily find and access where they need to be.

What are Mandatory Signs?

Mandatory signs feature a blue circle, with white images, symbols or text inside. They provide instructions of actions or behaviours to take in order to maintain safety, and should be visible to those working on site and visitors. This can include instruction to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), take an action such as washing hands or take precaution in a particular area or keep out of an area entirely.

Mandatory signs are also commonly known as ‘blue safety signs’, making them distinguishable from other safety signs. In some cases, mandatory signs also feature a separate blue panel with additional instructions, such as ‘keep clear’ or ‘keep out’. 

What are Warning Safety Signs?

Warning safety signs, also commonly known as ‘caution signs’, are typically yellow or amber in colour and are usually triangular in shape with a black border. 

Warning signs are used to alert people of a hazard and take caution or examine something before proceeding. Like mandatory signs, warning signs can also feature an additional panel with further, specific information. They’re often paired with mandatory signs, first to alert of the potential hazard and additionally advise on the action to take to avoid this.

What are Prohibition Signs?

Prohibition signs enforce actions that must be avoided in order to remain safe. Prohibition signs are typically red in colour and are depicted by a red circle with a diagonal line through the centre. Again, as with the two types of signs listed above, additional red panels can often feature to provide more information. These signs can also be displayed alongside mandatory signs to provide more detailed instruction. 

Opposite to mandatory signs that provide instructions on what you should do, prohibition signs are used to alert the workforce, visitors and the public of things they must not do when on or around the site.

What are Safe Condition Signs?

Safe condition signs are typically green with white writing, images and symbols. They provide instructions on actions or measures to take in the event of an emergency, such as utilising a fire exit. Because these types of signs relate to what to do in emergency situations, it is paramount that they are displayed in a way that enables maximum visibility - i.e. at eye level or above. 

Safe condition signs let those on site know what to do in an emergency, helping to keep order and calm on-site.

What are Fire Safety Signs?

Fire safety signs are used to alert those on site of what to do in the event of a fire, where fire safety equipment is located, when it should be used and to warn of potential fire hazards. 

Unlike the other types of signage which tend to be one particular colour, fire safety signs can feature several different colours depending on the caution, action, information or instruction they provide. Fire safety signs can be red, green, yellow or blue, and often contain both imagery/symbols and text. 

The most commonly used fire safety signs are fire extinguisher signs, fire exit signs and fire risk signs. 

What signs are required on a construction site?

In order to help keep employees and the public safe when on or around a construction site, clear signage is required and even deemed mandatory by legislation.

The signs required on a construction site depend on the nature of the work that is being carried out. This should usually be determined by the project site manager and the health and safety manager.

The exact, individual signs required are subject to various factors, however all five types of signs listed above will be necessary - Mandatory, Warning, Prohibition, Safe Conditions & Fire Safety.

What signs do you need for your construction site?

In order to determine what signs you will need to display on your construction site, a full risk assessment will need to be carried out. This must be done ahead of the work beginning to ensure the full safety on site and compliance with regulations.

A risk assessment enables you to identify what the potential risks in the workplace are, and what signage is required to reduce the risk of these. A risk assessment should be carried out by a qualified professional, utilising the HSR and RRFSO. 

Once all potential risks have been identified, you will be able to determine which risks can be omitted completely ahead of time. Those that are still risks should have a corresponding piece of signage.

Projected construction site safety signage

A construction site is a place that is subject to very quick wear and tear. With several pieces of machinery operating at one time, lots of consumable materials that often prove messy, and the high footfall of staff, signs can quickly become faded and damaged. If a sign is damaged and becomes unreadable, this may not prevent any accidents in the workplace.

Due to the nature of construction work, sites are often also temporary. This often means that new signage is required for each project, or you risk damaging or bending the signs in the removal process. Replacing these signs can become costly, something which construction site managers take on the chin as an unavoidable cost.

Projected signage is a reliable and cost effective alternative to traditional signage. Projected safety signs aren't subject to wear and tear and are displayed clearly through the use of a designed-for-purpose projector. If the layout of your site changes, or your sign needs updating, you can simply order a new gobo or move your projector on your site. A much quicker alternative than waiting for paint to dry. 

Projected safety signage works by projecting light through a gobo sign and is a long-lasting, effective alternative to printed signage. At Projected Image, we stock a wide range of construction site safety signage gobos, including all of the types listed within this article. Browse our warehouse safety signage page to learn more about the benefits of projected signs.

Need something bespoke? Then please get in touch with us to discuss your options.