After almost a 40 year career in the NHS as a nurse, I retired and started working for our family business. We are a sign and industrial engraving company.

I took on the remit of building the companies website, initially pertaining to the Safety Signage section.

While doing my research and developing a wider knowledge base on the use and important role safety signs have in our day to day life, it allowed me to reflect on my previous career and the vast number of Safety Signs used as part of the Health and Safety Standards within the NHS.

I have worked in both the hospital and community setting. In each new area, I would have an orientation to the department identifying all fire exits and fire fighting equipment, along with regular fire drills and yearly training. Each department would have the way-finding Signage and Assembly Points. The Fire Fighting Equipment is clearly identifiable with multi-instruction signs to guide the user on how and which fires they are suitable for use on. These signs would use the green and white for emergency procedures and the red circular signs with a diagonal line through it to inform of actions that are prohibited.

On one occasion I did have to extinguish a small fire, the combination of safety signs and training provided me with the skills to put out the fire safely.

Due to the nature of the services provided by the NHS and the vulnerability of many of their service users, Fire Safety Signage is an intricate part of their Fire Safety Standards.

The Hazard Safety Sign depicted by a yellow triangle with a black surround, with black pictogram are required in hospital laboratories and in the clinical area seen when toxic chemicals and treatments are used. The Hazard Safety Signs were vital whilst using different medical machines e.g lasers, x-ray machines to alert staff from the risk of burns and radiation, They would also bring to staffs attention the danger whilst using sharps e.g. to prevent needle stick injury, lacerations from scalpels and the use of medical gases to reduce the risk from fire or a potential explosion.

Over the years there has been an increase in Personal Protective Equipment PPE use. The blue circular sign is a mandatory sign and has a white pictogram. They are usually accompanied with white text re-enforcing the behaviour required. For example masks or gloves must be worn in this area.

For a large part of my career, I worked in different Accident and Emergency Departments.  As part of my role, I had a specific interest in accident prevention. It was clear that education was an important factor in accident prevention. But what impact does safety signs have on the reduction of accidents?

The desire and drive to protect and prevent accidents and injury is an important part of our culture. The NHS is also dedicated to prevent and reduce ill health. The use of safety signs has been in use for many years in all walks of life. It is evident that the Government, all employers and business owners wish to keep staff and the public safe, and in part, the safety sign must assist with this.

Looking back to my career as a nurse I wanted to consider how the use of safety signage protected the public, staff and patients. Also how the safety signs prevented injury and possible ill health.

My new job has taken me along a different route but still with a drive to reduce accidents and injury, in the best use of Safety Signage.

Ann Scott
Director Hi-Tech Safety Signs, RGN, RSCN and Health Visitor

Hi-Tech Signs & Engraving Ltd
11 Walton Road,
Pattinson North Industrial Estate,
Tyne and Wear
NE38 8QA

T. 0191 419 0222
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