Right safety sign, wrong position
Posted by David Arnold
With over 12 years’ industry experience, I have encountered many signs that have been positioned in such a way as to make them pointless. The following looks at a handful of these:
In the last year alone this author has seen this sign positioned in the lift itself on three separate occasions. This is all very well, apart from by the time you read the sign you may already have pressed ground zero and be half way to getting stranded in the lift! Of course, this sign should be positioned on each floor next to the lift’s opening.
A number of fire extinguisher companies like this sign because they do not have to hold six different sign types on their vans. Instead, they go with the ‘one sign fits all extinguishers’ approach and position it above any and all fire extinguishers. In reality the panic stricken individual has not the time nor the serenity to read all six boxes and then work out which fire extinguishers are positioned below it. The sign should only be positioned on notice boards in communal areas.
This is a far bigger topic than this short whistle-stop article will permit, but it does give the opportunity to reinforce the importance of not positioning this sign on a door. The reason for this is because, if the door is propped open, the evacuee will not be able to read the sign until the door is closed again.
Braille and Tactile (raised font) Fire exit signs
These signs should be positioned no higher than 1.4m off the ground so someone partially sighted or blind can read the message it is conveying. However, on more than one occasion this author has seen it positioned above a door where no partially sighted or blind person will ever think to reach.
As required by the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals Regulations) this sign should be positioned near the fire extinguishers. However, it is often positioned at a low level near the fire extinguishers themselves. Today it is perceived wisdom, coupled with guidance from BS5499, that says this sign should be positioned 1.7m – 2m off the ground. This is so if a permanent obstruction (eg a table) or a temporary obstruction (like a person) is stood in the line of vision, others can still identify the fire point from a distance.
Large Hot Water Signs
Costing a lot more than a small hot water sign, this sign is frequently seen next to hot water taps. However, there is no point paying more for this larger size that can be read from a distance. After all, the heat of the water is only relevant once a person gets within arms length of the hot tap. Beyond this distance the hot tap poses no threat whatsoever.
With so many more examples of signs being wrongly positioned out there this is undoubtedly an area these articles will return to at a later date. However, in the meantime, please bear in mind some of the above when you come to installing your own safety signs.
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