Safety Signs Blog

Frequently asked safety signs questions

22nd May 2012 | Health and Safety Signs

Posted by Bernard Carey

Are fire door keep shut signs required on all fire door under UK fire regs?

The Legislation for England and Wales (similar exists for Scotland and NI) is the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. It contains a lot of general, quite broad requirements, such as "The responsible person must make and give effect to such arrangements as are appropriate..." As a result, the Department for Communities and Local Government issue a wide range of guidance documents. These guidance documents state that "Fire doors that have been fitted with self-closing devices should be labelled ‘Fire door – keep shut’ on both sides. fire resisting doors to cupboards, stores and service ducts that are not self-closing because they are routinely kept locked should be labelled ‘Fire door – keep locked’ on the outside".

Whilst these guidance documents state SHOULD, rather than MUST, it would be a very brave or foolish person who chose to ignore the requirement as the Courts would likely see it as failing to '...give effect to such arrangements as are appropriate...' This is different from Final Exit Doors, where the regulations state that "... where necessary...emergency routes and exits must be indicated by signs".

What signs to I need to deal with COSHH?

This very much depends on the substances you are dealing with. The COSHH Risk Assessment for the use of the substance, which should have made use of the information on the Manufacturer's/Supplier's Safety Data Sheet, should have given you the signage requirements as part of the assessment. You may need signs for controlling entry or that require personal protective equipment to be worn.

What signs do I need on a building or construction site?

Depending on the size of the site and the nature of the construction taking place, you will need a range of signs, such as No Unauthorised Entry, Hard hats to be Worn, Hi-Vis to be Worn, Safety Footwear to be Worn, Danger Keep Out, Danger Excavations, plus Speed Limits, signs to separate vehicles from pedestrians and any other site specific hazard warnings, such as overhead electricity cables. There is no substitute for a competent person auditing the site and assessing all the requirements.

What signs do I need to comply with No Smoking legislation & do I need them in vehicles?

For England, the Smoke-free (Signs) Regulations 2007 require premises covered by the legislation require a sign that is at least A5 size, displays the no-smoking symbol; and contains, in characters that can be easily read by persons using the entrance, the words— “No smoking. It is against the law to smoke in these premises” (“these premises” may be replaced by a more specific phrase, such as “this hotel”). A vehicle which is covered by the regulations must display a 'No Smoking symbol' sign in each compartment of the vehicle that may carry persons. Similar regulations apply in the rest of the UK.

What safety signs does a small business legally have to have?

It very much depends on the size and nature of the business and the risks that are present. A proper health and safety audit of the premises will find out what is required. If a risk assessment made under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1992 indicates that the employer, having adopted all appropriate measures, cannot avoid or adequately reduce risks to employees except by the provision of appropriate safety signs to warn or instruct, or both, then signs are required.

What signs are recommended from a fire safety point of view?

The basics are those that indicate where fire safety equipment and alarm call points are located, if they are not immediately obvious, sufficient signs to indicate the escape route(s) and if more than a handful of staff, Fire Action Notices, to remind people what to do in an emergency. Legislation requires that most non-residential premises have a Fire Risk Assessment; this will identify the correct sign requirements.

What size & which materials do I need to consider when buying safety signs?

Consider where they are to be located and what they will be subjected to, in terms of environmental conditions, vandalism etc. There are a few signs that have a legal minimum requirement, but generally they must be readable at the distance they are mounted; so no placing a 20cm sign 30mtrs high and expecting people to read it. You can expect a reputable sign supplier to know which signs have legal specifications.

Attractive safety signs - how can I get safety signs that look half decent?

Unfortunately, designer signs in the latest colour schemes is not what it is all about. Safety signs are covered by specific legislation regarding colours, font proportions etc. making them recognisable across Europe. The colours are for specific reasons, such as Blue for mandatory. Use a quality manufacturer and at least the signs will be as 'attractive' as they can be.

As a small B&B / Hotel - what safety signs do I need?

You may need signs to keep guests from areas that are off limits, such as the kitchen, but the key thing is to ensure that a Fire Risk Assessment is completed, which will identify what signs you need, amongst other measures, to ensure the safety of your guests.

What risks do I need to warn people about by using Safety Signs?

Different laws require different signs, but generally when there is a risk that someone could receive any form of injury or ill health from whatever the activity, substance or hazard is, then a sign is required. When it comes to the workplace, an employer's duties cannot be met by a sign alone; safety signs support and reinforce safe working practices, not replace them.

When do I need to use Photo-luminescent / glow in the dark signs?

Photo-luminescent signs should be used whenever there is a lack of general lighting or illuminated emergency signs. A Risk Assessment for the premises should identify where they are required.

Bernard Carey MCGI, GradIOSH, DipNEBOSH, EnvDipNEBOSH served over 30 years as an engineer and health and safety officer in the Royal Air Force. Now specialising in providing cost effective health and safety support in the East Midlands for smaller organisations such as shops, pubs, offices, charities and family run companies, all the ones who can least afford to have an accident, to keep their staff safe.

T: (01476) 500 130 E:


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