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Safety signs

Last updated: 01.09.2021
  • A safety sign refers to a certain object, activity, or situation and provides the necessary safety information or instructions.
  • The employer shall inform and instruct employees regarding safety signs.
  • A safety sign should be installed at the entrance to a danger zone.
Kiivri sümbol

Safety signs

In order to reduce a health risk, safety signs shall be used, as appropriate, referring to a specific object, activity or situation and providing the necessary safety information or instructions. The requirements for the use of safety signs at the workplace are provided in regulation No. 75 of the Minister of Social Affairs of 30 November 1999 “Requirements concerning the provision of safety signs in the workplace”.

Employers shall inform employees and working environment representatives of all safety signs that are in use at work or that have been changed or introduced, and provide them with training on the meaning of the safety signs and the rules applicable to behaviour in the areas where those signs apply.

Safety signs

In a working environment, the most commonly used safety signs are categorised into prohibition, warning and mandatory signs, evacuation and first aid signs and fire-fighting signs based on their purpose.

The intrinsic features of prohibition signs are a round shape, a black pictogram on a white background, red edging and a diagonal line. The intrinsic features of warning signs are a triangular shape, a black pictogram on a yellow background with black edging. The intrinsic features of mandatory signs are a round shape and a white pictogram on a blue background. The intrinsic features of evacuation and first aid signs are a rectangular or square shape and a white pictogram on a green background. The intrinsic features of fire-fighting signs are a rectangular or square shape and a white pictogram on a red background.

Safety signs available in a store that comply with the ISO 7010 standard may also be used in the working environment.


When installing a fire extinguisher on the wall of a building, the fire extinguisher must be visible or can be found according to the marking.
A sign referring to first aid equipment.

For example, safety signs may indicate that smoking is prohibited, wearing a helmet is mandatory or that there is an electrical hazard.

 Wear a protective helmet

No smoking

Electrical hazard


If there are danger zones in the workplace, a safety sign shall be placed at the entrance to this zone. For example, a sign prohibiting unauthorised entry, a sign indicating a suspended load or a sign warning of a moving truck / forklift can be found at the entrance to the workroom or territory

 Unauthorised entry prohibited

suspended load  

moving truck / forklift


Safety signs shall be positioned in well-lit locations and at a height appropriate to the line of sight, ensuring that they are not hidden by constructions or objects. A supplemental sign may be added to a safety sign. This expresses in words the meaning of the sign, provides additional information about the area in which the sign applies, or indicates the location of the room or device shown on the sign.

If there are areas of general danger at a workplace, safety signs shall be positioned at the entrance to those areas. For example, a warning sign is installed in the kitchen near the stove and soup boiler to indicate the risk of burns.


The “Wear hearing protection” sign shall be installed at the entrance to a danger zone or by a noise-generating device if the noise level is 80 dB (A) or more. Generally, the manufacturer of a device has also attached the relevant safety signs in a visible place on the device, and the employer shall arrange for their maintenance and replacement if they are worn.

Wear hearing protection


Indication of obstacles, dangerous locations and traffic routes.

Places where there is a risk of colliding with obstacles, of falling or of objects falling should be marked with alternating yellow and black or alternating red and white stripes that are at an angle of approximately 45° and of equal size. The edge of the first and last steps of stairs is often marked if the steps and landings of the stairs are the same colour and/or there is a risk of falling in low-light conditions.

Escape route 

Indication of obstacles and dangerous locations.


Permanent traffic routes on the territory of an undertaking shall be marked clearly with continuous stripes which should preferably be white or yellow, unless they are provided with pavements. Traffic routes for vehicles in rooms shall be marked in a similar way.

Indication of containers and pipes

Containers for hazardous substances or mixtures, and containers with the visible pipes containing or transporting hazardous substances and mixtures, shall be labelled with the relevant hazard pictograms or equivalent warning sign.

Pictogram and warning sign of a corrosive substance.


The label may be supplemented by additional information, such as the name or formula of the dangerous substance or mixture and details of the hazard.

However, labelling is not required if the container is used for a short period of time or its contents change frequently and employees are informed of the hazards involved.

Pipes shall be labelled using permanent dye or a coloured sticker with an arrow indicating the direction in which the substance is flowing, in accordance with the table below.


Substance:  Colour:  Colour of the arrow:
water green white
 vapour  red  white
 air  grey  black
 combustible gases  yellow  red
 non-combustible gases  black  white
 acids  orange  black
 alkalis  violet  white
 combustible liquids  brown  red
 non-combustible liquids  black  white
 oxygen  blue  white


The labels on the pipes shall be repeated at a reasonable distance from each other and in the vicinity of the most dangerous parts, such as valves or fittings.


Temporary safety signs

An illuminated sign, acoustic signal or verbal communication is used to inform employees of imminent danger, to direct their activities or to instruct them to evacuate the area of danger in the event of an emergency. A verbal communication or hand signal is used to direct a person carrying out a dangerous load-moving operation or a dangerous manoeuvre. The characteristics and use of illuminated signs, acoustic signals, verbal and hand signals are regulated by sections 14–21 of regulation No. 75 of the Minister of Social Affairs of 30 November 1999 “Requirements concerning the provision of safety signs in the workplace”.

A person who moves cargo or performs manoeuvres with a device shall be instructed using agreed-on hand movements or positions, i.e. hand signals. The following hand signals are used. The person giving the hand signals (the signaller) must not be given any further duties in addition to directing manoeuvres and load-moving operations and ensuring the safety of workers in the vicinity.

General hand signals:


Signals directing vertical movements:


Signals directing horizontal movements


Signals in the event of danger: