Costs behind improper signage in the workplace


All workplaces should have relevant work signs to ensure that their employees are kept safe and protected in their work life.

Danger signs fall under different categories, including electrical, hazardous materials and dangerous environments.

When the correct signs are not up in a workplace, the costs can be ridiculously high, in both human life as it can lead to fatalities, and cost, as the workplace can face some huge pay-outs should the warning and danger signs not be displayed correctly.

Here are the three major signs that a workplace should be used to prevent accidents at work, as well as the costs behind them:

Costs Behind Improper Electrical Signs

In 2019, the Government reported that there were up to 36 fatalities that could have come from electrical problems in the workplace. However, some of these could have potentially been stopped by a workplace having up the correct warning signs, or by the staff assessing the warning sites prior to entering the workplace.

Electrical injuries usually mean electrical shocks, thermal burns, muscle injury and electrical burns, but is not restricted to these. It is important to display electrical signs in appropriate areas and also give the employees a warning beforehand so that they can ask any questions.

On average, those that suffer from an injury due to electric takes five days off work to recover. This equates to hundreds of thousands of days lost in sick-pay and manpower.

Costs Behind Improper Hazardous Signs

Hazardous materials account for a significant portion of workplace injuries in the UK. More often than not, these are long-term injuries, resulting in the employee  taking a lot of time off work. The HSE estimates that there are around 13,000 annual deaths from occupational lung disease and cancer caused by past exposure, mainly due to the chemicals and dust in the workplace.

Much of the exposure is usually due to accidental spills that don’t get cleaned up and materials not being labelled properly. Whenever a poisonous chemical has been spilt or is in use, it must be properly signposted and quarantined and not just wiped away and ignored.

One example of hazardous materials includes hexavalent chromium, a toxic form of chromium that can cause severe health issues such as lung cancer and respiratory irritation. To prevent such exposure, employers must ensure that a hexavalent chromium safety sign is prominently displayed in areas where the substance is used or stored. In most cases, these signs are required by law, and failure to comply can result in hefty fines and legal action.

As mentioned, there are 13,000 annual deaths from spillages which could have been prevented should a proper process have been in place, and the correct signage be used. Spillages also account for millions of pounds of treatment from the NHS each year and plenty of days off work.

Costs Behind Improper Environmental Signs

Over the five-year period between 2013-2018, a quarter of fatal injuries in a workplace came from falls from height, most of which could have been saved through the use of a proper environmental warning sign. This makes falls the highest cause of workplace fatalities, followed second by being struck by a moving vehicle.

Again, these injuries could have been avoided through proper environmental signage, particularly on factory floors where workers need to be made aware of forklift traffic channels and loading bays.

Label Source has a number of warning signs suited to environmental hazards which can, when augmented with proper training and re-training, help prevent this number of fatalities from growing.

Workplaces must ensure warning signs are used if they are required; an employer simply cannot avoid putting labels in place.

These types of consequences are not short-term, either. Asbestos, for example, is still a major issue in the modern world, with its effects coming from both improper signage of asbestos areas, as well as poor safety equipment or removal.

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