What Health And Safety Signs Are Triangular?

General Safety By Matthew Coombes

Signs are a great way to quickly get information across.

To break down barriers of understanding, pictograms on health and safety signage have been internationally agreed on for a considerable amount of time. While they can vary slightly, the intention between the image is typically the same.

This is to make sure that even those who do not speak the native language of the country in which they’ve encountered the health and safety sign, should be able to understand it.

In accordance with The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996, triangular signs are warning signs.

They feature a black image on a yellow background with a thick black line around the outside of the triangle.

Warning signs are exactly as they sound, they provide a warning that people in the area need to be careful or take precautions.

However, signage does not fully control a risk, and without the other hallmarks of positive health and safety such as physical barriers between people and risks, consistent communication, and risk reduction, a safety sign can provide only a small contribution to the reduction of risk.

A great example of this is a wet floor sign.

A wet floor sign provides a warning to anyone that can see and interpret it that the floor is wet, and they might slip on the wet floor.

However, as a form of risk management, the wet floor sign is about as useful as a chocolate teapot.

Simply placing a sign somewhere that says ‘wet floor’ with the triangular ‘slip risk’ image doesn’t tell us exactly where the floor is wet, and people who are more vulnerable such as those with impaired vision may not be able to read the sign.

If the sign is used as part of or to make a physical barrier between the hazard and those at risk, such as a big pool of water with wet floor signs blocking you from walking into the wet portion of the walkway, this has the potential to reduce the likelihood that someone will slip.

However, if the sign is simply placed ‘near’ to the hazard, or at the entry way, it is not a very good warning, as the wet or slippery portion of the floor could be anywhere.

Additionally, a wet floor sign is essentially an admission of guilt – the organisation knows that there is an issue with the floor, and that when the floor gets wet it becomes a slip risk, but they’ve chosen to do nothing about it.

Where are triangular health and safety signs effective?

Warning signs are most effective when they are part of other safety measures, such as fencing to prevent access including an explosive warning sign. This shows anyone who can understand the sign, why they don’t want to enter the area. This can provide a much better incentive to keep out of that area.

Signs are also cheap and easy to install. They can be placed appropriately right next to a hazard and provide a level of information which is better than nothing. Typically, they will require little maintenance and have the added benefit of being present 24/7.


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