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When and how to use safety signs? Here are your five legal obligations

by , 13 March 2015
The OHSA outlines that companies must use safety signs to protect employees. Of course, it depends on the case, but keep in mind that even as a common sign such as "Wet floor" or "Pay attention to the staircase" can make a BIG difference to your employees safety!

This because safety signs indicate any potential hazard, obstacle or condition that requires special attention. They're placed in strategic areas to alert you and visitors of possible hazards or danger zones. Also, some safety signs also indicate the protective gear you must wear before you enter a specific area.

Simple, right? Not quite. Because the OSHA also outlines these five legal safety sign obligations.

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You have five legal obligations when it comes to safety signs

Here they are:

1. You must display safety signs in your workplace to warn anyone on your premises of any hazards or danger (General Safety Regulation 2 of the OHSA).

2. The safety signs you use must be clearly visible, unobstructed and you shouldn't allow anyone to place anything in front of it.

Note that the signs must be in a position where they are easily seen – not too high up and not too low down.

3. Place them in a conspicuous place, at the entrance to any danger zone or where personal protective equipment (PPE) must be worn (outside the entrance). Also, display the signs at any danger zone or work area.

4. Make sure the background colour of the sign makes it stand out!

5. The final rule is that you have to keep the safety signs clean and well illuminated.

If you don't comply with these obligations, you could be fined or imprisoned for up to six months. If you don't install safety signs, you will pay a fine of R200 or spend one day in prison for every day they don't obey the law!

Note that any person (including employees, contractors and visitors) found guilty of damaging, obstructing or removing safety signs can be fined R50 000 or spend a year in prison, or both.

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