South African regulations made under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 1993 as well as by-laws made under the Fire Brigade Services Act, 1987 require employers to provide and maintain safety signs where there is significant risk to health and safety. All workplaces, and public places are covered. Crucial in any work environment, the purpose is to prevent injury and ensure staff and visitors are well aware of the possible dangers and hazards ahead in certain situations and/or environments.
In simple terms, the OHS Act places a legal obligation on employers to find out what could go wrong and then make sure it doesn’t. This means that appropriate signs must be used throughout the workplace. Without signs, many employees would lack the necessary direction in times of crisis, and employers might find themselves in significant legal difficulties if any accidents were to arise as a result.
The use of geometrical shapes, colours and pictorial symbols, complying with SANS 1186-1 fulfils the requirement by conveying safety messages at a glance.