Why you need the correct Hazard sign
Why you need the correct Hazard sign: The correct hazard sign will advise emergency services, visitors, contractors and your employees what hazardous substances you have stored and used on site. This advises them the protection or precautionary measures they need to take? The correct signs provide clear, concise information and are often the first warnings people will have about your hazardous substances.
Signs must be placed at key points on your site, for example at entranceways and on buildings, or in outdoor areas, where hazardous substances are used or stored. They must be clearly visible and let people know that hazardous substances are present, the general type of hazard and what to do in an emergency. This allows people to approach the site with appropriate care.
Note: there are special signage requirements for some substances, like fumigants and vertebrate toxic agents AKA (VTAs).
When do you need signs?
Signs are required when you have hazardous substances exceeding certain specified amounts. You can use the hazardous substances calculator(external link) this link will take you to the NZ Govt Worksafe site to work out if you are required to have these signs in place.
Even if you aren’t required to have signs, it is best practice always to have them as they warn other people at the workplace, and emergency services, that hazardous substances are present.
What needs to be your sign?
There are requirements for signs generally. They must be made out of a durable material that won’t easily fade. They must be in plain English, readily understandable, and the information (correct words and pictograms) must be clearly visible and legible from not less than 10 metres away under varying conditions (ie: rain or poor light).
There are some specific requirements such as a sign for transit depots; the word EXPLOSIVES required for Class 1 substances; and the word HAZCHEM required for class 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 8 substances.
Where should the signs be placed?
Signs need to be placed close to where the hazardous substances are stored, but not too close, as people need to know that the danger is there way before it’s too late.
If hazardous substances are in a building at a workplace, the signs must be at every vehicle and pedestrian entrance to the building and or the property.
If hazardous substances are in a room inside the building, signs should be at each entrance to that room.
If hazardous substances are outdoors, a sign must be next to that area.
Don’t place signs:
- Where they can be hidden
- Beside doors or gates that may cover the sign when opened.
- Above doors, or anywhere where smoke may obscure the sign.
Do you have to maintain these signs?
Yes signs must be maintained and up-to-date. Signs that can not be read or do not correctly advise the hazardous substances on site will not help to keep people safe.
You must change your signs (as soon as practicable) if there is a change in the type, class, or quantity of hazardous substances present at the workplace that requires different information to be displayed.
You must ensure that your signs are clean, in good repair and not covered or obscured.