Too many safety signs?

With a huge choice of safety signs available to purchase online, some sign manufacturers could be accused of offering too many signs! Safety signage is an important aspect of every organisation or business's management of Health & Safety in the workplace. Safety signs are not a substitute for safe working practices – but they can help further reduce the risks once all other practical steps have been taken. In order to make every UK safety sign universally understood there are design rules which manufacturers have to follow.

Since no one explains these 'rules', many people think that a safety sign must be a certain size or type of material – and so they put up with a limited choice of products. It doesn't have to be like this! Whilst there are minimum size limits in some cases – safety signage can be produced in a huge range of size and material options. This means that you can choose the sign that best fits YOUR application – and not be restricted to ones that suit the manufacturer, so that the number of stocked items can be limited.

A practical example is fire exit signs; there are 3 main sizes to choose from, depending on the installation. The main factor to be considered is the viewing distance of the sign

  • up to 30m, large (600x200mm)
  • up to 22m, medium (450x150mm)
  • up to 13m, small (300x100mm).

Where most manufacturers will offer some of these sizes in some materials – you can purchase all 3 fire exit sign design types (BS5499, 92/58 EEC & NHS HTM65) in all 8 arrow directions with up to 12 material choices – that’s 864 types of fire exit signs alone! This means if you run a restaurant and you only need the small (300x100mm) fire exit signs – but you'd like them in a premium finish – you can purchase a brushed stainless steel, or metal effect version. Equally if you've got a warehouse and you need the large (600x200mm) fire exit signs – and you want them to be photoluminescent (glow in the dark) – you can!

Safety sign design is regulated in the UK by BS5499, which specifies both the symbols and colours to be used for different types of signs. Red for prohibition signs, blue for mandatory signs, yellow for warning signs & green for safe condition signs. These specifications must be followed by the manufacturer – and the correct safety sign chosen by the end user, to be clearly legible when installed, at a distance which makes sense in that situation. Whether the sign is 200x150 (A5) or 800x600mm (A1), landscape or portrait makes no difference to meeting the regulations – or to the effectiveness of the safety function it provides. The biggest possible choice just means that you can have the safety signs which make most sense for YOUR needs. So don't make your prestige office look like a building site with enormous safety signs which could be read from across the street, or equally your building site signs so small that no one pays attention to them...

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