Safety signs

Safety Signs

Safety signs can be found almost everywhere, from nurseries and schools to hospitals, offices, shopping centres, hotels, conference facilities and construction sites. They should be used to convey a clear, unambiguous message that can be easily understood by everyone, even when English is not their first language. This is helped by the use of easily recognisable symbols, such as fire exit running man, no smoking and chemical hazard.

Internationally recognised symbols help to support the sign’s instruction, be it the location of the nearest emergency exit, first aid facility or piece of fire fighting equipment. Safety signage can also be used to warn of potential hazards, restrict access or ensure that personal protective equipment is worn. Other key messages that may need to be conveyed are the need to keep fire exit doors clear and to prohibit certain actions, such as no smoking.

All symbols used should comply with European Normative BS EN ISO 7010, which was written into European law in 2013. In essence, this is the standardisation of all symbols so that they are internationally recognised by all European member states.

What is BS EN ISO 7010?


The ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) 7010 prescribes the shape, colour and graphical symbol required on safety signs. Common symbols (or pictograms) were introduced and tested throughout all European countries to ensure that the symbols were easily understood and recognised. We also keep abreast of any changes to this standardisation to ensure that you are always up to date with the latest safety signs legislation.

Why was BS EN ISO 7010 introduced?


Due to the increased number of non-native speaking workers in each European country, text-based safety instructions were no longer deemed sufficient. This highlighted the same problems facing those with poor eyesight, reading difficulties and other disabilities; the danger to worker safety became much more apparent.

The solution was to create an international standard for safety signs using pictograms that could be easily understood by everyone. This meant that, for instance, a hard hat safety sign in the UK looked exactly the same in another European country.

What you need to do to comply


BS EN ISO 7010 applies to all workplaces, sectors and locations, with the exception of some very specialist signs used in river and maritime, rail, road, and air traffic industries. Any premises required to display safety signs to convey safety information should be using BS EN ISO 7010 compliant symbols.

Who needs to display safety signs?


The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 requires employers to ensure that safety signs are provided and maintained in circumstances where there is a significant risk to health and safety that cannot be controlled or removed by other means.

However, these regulations make it clear that safety signs are not a substitute for other ways of controlling risks to employees. Signs are designed to warn of any remaining risk or to instruct employees of the measures they should take, such as the wearing of foot protection.

You can be sure that your signs comply


We only manufacture signs that comply with BS EN ISO 7010, therefore you can be confident in the knowledge that any sign purchased from us will adhere to the latest legislation – including our custom safety signs.

Check your current safety signage against our guide to ISO symbols to ensure that you comply:
Fire Equipment Symbols
Hazard Warning Symbols
Mandatory Symbols
Prohibition Symbols
Safe Condition Symbols


Safety sign colours and their meaning


Safety signs have a very specific colour coding convention, with each having their own meaning.
Green - safe condition. These include first aid and drinking water signs, as well as fire exit signs.
Red - prohibition and fire equipment signs. Prohibition signs should be used to show that certain actions must be avoided, such as restricted or no access, no smoking, no dogs. Fire equipment signs should be used to both show the location of fire fighting equipment as well as alarm activation points.
Yellow - hazard warning signs. Normally accompanied with the words danger, caution or warning, these signs should be used to provide a clear warning message.
Blue - mandatory signs. These instructional signs give clear guidance on what actions must be taken. For instance, the wearing of PPE, reporting to reception and keeping a door shut or locked.

See our guide to ISO symbols and their meanings for more details.

FAQs


What size sign do I need?
The size of a safety sign is dependent on its location, the size of font used and, to a certain degree, its position.

Your sign should always be displayed where it can be easily seen from various locations. Use the below guide to help you decide on the correct size of sign.

If you have staff or visitors with impaired vision, then consider using both standard and Braille safety signs.

What if there is a power failure, will my sign be seen in the dark?
Unless there is emergency lighting or a source of natural light, then the honest answer is probably no. However, one quick and easy solution would be the installation of photoluminescent signs which are designed to be seen in the dark. They do not require any special maintenance or specialist equipment and will glow in the dark.

There are a lot of sign materials to choose from; which is best for me?
There are a couple of questions you need to ask yourself:
Is the sign going to be displayed indoors or outdoors?
Do I want a standard sign that conveys my safety message or do I want a more prestigious look?

The majority of materials are suitable for use both indoors and out, including our most popular ones – self-adhesive vinyl, rigid plastic and adhesive rigid plastic.

Self-Adhesive vinyl is quick and easy to apply with the minimum of fuss. Simply peel off the protective backing strip and stick where needed. Vinyl is flexible and is therefore ideal for adhering to curved or slightly uneven surfaces.

Adhesive rigid plastic is solid but again with a self-adhesive backing for fuss-free application. These signs are ideal for use on smooth surfaces.

Rigid plastic signs require drill holes or the use of a permanent adhesive. Drill holes can be added at the time of manufacture for a minimum cost - please call one of our sales team for more information.

Our handy signs material guide provides more information on each material available, including aluminium and acrylic for when a more prestigious look is required.

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