Construction, Contractor Safety, Personnel Safety

The Significance of Safety Signage

Signs are an important part of any workplace. They communicate critical information to workers and help keep everyone safe. But not all signs are created equal. If you want to make sure your workplace is as safe as possible, you need to use effective signage.

There are a few key things to keep in mind when designing and implementing signage for your workplace. Visibility, accessibility, frequency, and transparency all play a definite role in ensuring that your worksite is equipped with the necessary measures to keep workers safe, all while keeping up with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) expectations.

In addition, your signs should be updated regularly to reflect any changes in your workplace safety protocol. And finally, make sure all employees are familiar with the meanings of the signs and know what they should do when they see them.

What Is the importance of signage at a worksite?

The primary significance of effective signage is twofold. First, signage is a legal obligation for any organization. Whether it is employees, contractors, or visitors that make use of the signs, any individual should be able to safely navigate or operate in your worksite.  The reason signage is so important is because it helps reduce the risk of potential injuries. By identifying hazards and how to avoid them, we can make sure that everyone on site knows what to do and what to avoid to stay safe.

How can visible signage help increase workplace safety?

You might be wondering how effective signage can help improve workplace safety. The benefits associated with it ensure that you’ve safeguarded your workplace from any potential risk.

OSHA requires that all employers implement effective, clear visual communication in the form of safety signs. This is to ensure that workers are aware of potential hazards and can take necessary precautions to avoid injuries. While experienced contractors are familiar with the common hazards found on a worksite, visible signage can pose as a helpful reminder to deter complacency. By providing clear visual communication, safety signs help to increase awareness of potential hazards related to machinery, platforms, temperatures, and all contributing aspects of contractor work that could cause injury.

Examples of effective signage

While each industry comes with its own unique requirements, industry-wide best practices can help in ensuring that you’ve properly equipped your site with the appropriate safety signs. In liaison with OSHA standards, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has established best practices pertaining to danger, warning, and caution signs. While ANSI does not hold the jurisdiction to cite signage regulations, their industrywide acceptance of best practices grants OSHA the responsibility to enforce sign requirements.

The effectiveness of safety signage relies on these four principles:

  • Visibility:
    • If your worksite suffers from low visibility, your signs should be lit up and visible.
    • Your signs should be visible to moving vehicles.
    • The view of your signs should not be obstructed by any objects or machinery.
  • Accessibility:
    • All signage should be easily visible from all angles.
    • Text and symbols on signs should be easy to read.
    • Signs should be able to communicate a message promptly.
  • Transparency:
    • Signage should clearly identify hazards and accurately display where/what the hazards are.
    • Specific signs should be placed within the vicinity of an identified hazard.
  • Frequency:
    • Signage should be updated regularly, to keep it current and relevant to present worksite settings.
    • Signs pertaining to a single hazard should be frequently displayed as a reminder.

Some common types of safety signage include warning signs, hazard signs, mandatory PPE signage, and prohibition of certain items and activities in certain settings.

How can I ensure my worksite has effective signage?

Making sure your workplace has effective visual communication can be the difference between a safe and dangerous work environment. The first step in ensuring that you’ve implemented effective signage is by assessing your worksite against OSHA’s signage requirements. Furthermore, you can conduct an independent audit of your workplace signage by analyzing factors such as visibility, accessibility, and frequency. What is equally important is ensuring that your workforce understands the significance of signage, as well as the definitions of each one. In addition to fostering positive workplace safety expectations, hiring organizations can also use contractor management software to onboard contractors with the proper safety sign knowledge and procedure information prior to starting work.

Penalties for not having effective signage at a worksite

You might be wondering, what happens if you don’t have effective signage at your worksite? OSHA has the answer.

They have standards addressing the types of signs, signals, and barricades that must be used to protect employees and contractors from all present hazards. And that’s not all. Effective signage also includes appropriate placement and clear messaging.

So it’s crucial that you make sure your signs are in compliance with OSHA regulations. Not only could you face penalties if you don’t, but you could also be putting your employees’ safety at risk. Since the violation of signage standards falls under noncompliance, OSHA has the ability to enforce monetary penalties. Referenced below is OSHA’s fine structure for noncompliance:

  • Serious or other-than-serious posting requirements: $14,502 per violation
  • Failure to correct a cited violation: $14,502 per day beyond the date of notification
  • Willful or repeated violations: $145,027


Signs are an important part of any workplace safety program. They remind employees of the safety procedures that need to be followed to avoid injury. Good signage can also help contractors and other visitors to your worksite understand the hazards and avoid potential accidents.

If you’re looking for a way to improve workplace safety, installing effective signage is a great place to start. Signs should be easy to read and understand, and they should be placed in key areas around the worksite. Make sure you keep safety signs up-to-date, and in line with what is expected in your line of work.

Compliance with signage requirements can play an important role in improving workplace safety, ensuring that you follow the standards set out by OSHA and ANSI.

While an effective safety program for the workplace will always have multiple facets, signage will remain a staple in ensuring onsite safety. This is true for both permanent worksites as well as those that are only active for a specific project. Signs serve as a reminder to employees and contractors of the safety procedures that need to be followed in order to avoid injury. By taking these simple steps, you can help create a safer workplace for everyone and avoid any issues that could notify safety-governing bodies like OSHA.

Faris Badaro is Junior Marketing Specialist for Contractor Compliance, a SaaS software for contractor management.  

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