Health & safety: Signage

Dominic Slingsby

Dominic Slingsby advises on safety signage

Expert: Dominic Slingsby

Company: Slingsby

Background: Managing director of Slingsby, which was established in 1893 and supplies more than 35,000 workplace products

If you are currently buying or replacing safety signage, you need to ensure the new signs comply with proposed legislation, which could see all workplace signage standardised throughout Europe.

The changes will see ISO 7010, which promotes the use of internationally recognised symbols on safety signs, become EN 7010. The change means the standard could become written into both UK and EU law, as opposed to simply being a recommendation. Although the introduction date is still to be confirmed, it will affect nearly all businesses and public sector organisations throughout the UK.  

The motivation for these changes is every country has a growing population of non-native speaking employees. Therefore, text based signs or those with unfamiliar pictures, might not be understood. Instead, standard signs featuring highly comprehensive symbols will be used on all signage throughout Europe so an emergency exit sign in Birmingham, looks exactly the same as it would in Budapest.

It’s always advisable to carry out signage audits on a regular basis to check all signs are relevant to potential risks and fully comprehensible. However, this legislation is another important factor to consider because if you are currently buying signs, you could soon end up having to replace them again if they don’t comply with the new standards.

Although initially this may seem like an inconvenience, safety signs remain one of the easiest and cheapest ways of preventing workplace accidents, so it’s worth doing and will definitely prove to be money well spent.  

Under The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996, employers are required to provide specific safety signs whenever there is a risk that has not been eradicated by other means. In cases where a safety sign would not help to reduce the risk, there is no need to provide a sign.

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