Safety Signs Blog

The big move away from BS5499 to EN 7010

3rd December 2010 | Health and Safety Signs

Posted by Darren Joint.

Since 2003 the previously ignored International Standard ISO 7010 has existed. This is a Standard that clearly outlines the symbols that safety signs across the world should be using. Of course, up until now, in the UK we have been more than happy to ignore it! After all, our own Standard, BS5499, does a more than adequate job of telling us what symbols to use. What’s more, many of these British Standard symbols have been tested and found to have proven comprehension levels. However, the simple practice of simply referring to BS5499 is set to change in 2011. After seven years of waiting, ISO 7010 is set to be properly acknowledged and adhered to in the UK.

This change to 7010 is not due to a change of heart or indeed a change of UK government. This is because this ISO Standard (a document detailing perceived best international practice) is set to become a European Normative. Effectively this will make it a European Law – a law that the UK, as a member state, will have to adopt. What this article will attempt to do is address the five questions that can help UK businesses understand how it will impact them:

What does ISO 7010 outline?

Contained in ISO 7010 there is a list of symbols that should be shown on the most commonly used safety signs. Although this list is not exhaustive, it does cover most of the important signs, from no entry signs to fire exits sign, to mind your step signs.

Why will the UK adopt the EN 7010 standard?

With travel stats suggesting more and more people are living and working in countries other than their birthplace there is good logic to having an international safety sign standard. For example, under this new standard, if you are a non-English reading person now working on a construction site in Birmingham you will recognise an internationally recognised hard hat symbol even if you do not understand the text to the right of that symbol. Likewise, an English site worker working in Paris will understand the same message.

When is 7010 due to come in?

At the time of writing the date as to when ISO 7010 will become EN 7010 is still a little unclear. The best guess is that ISO 7010 will move to a Provisional EN 7010 in the Spring of 2011. It will then take a short period of time to progress to being a full-blown EN standard.

How will this new safety signs standard be implemented?

The chances are that the guidance notes that accompany the 7010 Standard will not ask businesses to remove and replace all safety signs that do not currently showing the EN 7010 symbols. However, any new safety sign bought that has a 7010 symbol listed in the Standard should really comply.

Who will be selling EN7010 safety signs?

It is believed that many of the larger manufacturers will be switching to the new 7010 design in early 2011. This is very much to ensure a clear message about 7010’s arrival goes out to all UK businesses. Reputable companies like Viking Signs, through their online store at will of course be at the forefront of this change.

In the coming weeks and months this News Blog will ensure we keep our customers up to speed with the latest developments on what could very quickly become the next hot topic.


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