Health and safety legislation require fire safety and emergency signage to be put in place. Whether you own a shop, student accommodation or an office you have a responsibility to comply with the relevant legislation.
If you are unsure about the exact signage you need, we advise you have a risk assessment done to ensure you aren’t caught out. Not only do you need the correct signs, but they must be located in specific places and at the right heights. Safety signs must be easily recognisable, using words and pictograms that quickly communicate steps to take in an emergency or how to prevent one. Below we have included some useful information about some of the different types of signs you may require.
Fire Action Notices
Fire action notices provide information about the fire safety plan of a building. These should be mounted in areas where people in your building will have a chance to read the information, such as a staff room, waiting area or next to an entrance. Remember, people who are new to your building must be able to familiarise themselves with the details. Different types of sign are available, but most have spaces to fill in essential information specific to your building.
Fire Door Signs
Blue door signs help to ensure the spread of fire is limited in the event of an emergency by reminding people to shut doors. Fire doors should be kept closed, unless approved door retainers are used. Green signage is also required to provide clear information on how to escape using a specific door – push bar to open, turn to open, pull, etc.
Fire Extinguisher Signs
The correct ID sign must accompany every fire extinguisher you have at your premises. This ensures that in an emergency, they can be located and people can quickly choose the most appropriate piece of equipment to fight a fire. Using the wrong extinguisher can be ineffective or even make a fire worse. These signs are inexpensive, but are mandatory – don’t get caught on the wrong side of the law.
Fire Exit Signs
Clear signage must lead to a final exit of a building and are mandatory, except in tiny properties. If the normal exit to a building is blocked in the event of a fire, people must be able to quickly find a fire exit. All signs must be mounted in the normal field of vision and in unobscured locations, ideally above doors. These signs should be large, predominantly green with white pictograms indicating the fastest way to an exit. Photo-luminescent signs are recommended.
Fire Alarm Call Point Signs
If your building has a fire alarm, call point ID signs are mandatory in many cases. Persons should be able to quickly locate and use a manual call point in an emergency to minimise the risk of injury and damage. It is recommended to use photo-luminescent signs, as in the event of power loss signs should still be visible.
These signs are designed to clearly convey ‘Do Not’ commands and are recognisable as a pictogram within a red circle with a slash from left to right. ‘No Smoking’ and ‘Do not use lift in the event of fire’ signs are good examples of prohibition signs. Not adhering to smoking sign regulations alone can land you with a £200 pound fine.
These signs should make people aware of nearby dangers such as flammable liquids or high voltage. Consisting of a yellow equilateral triangle with a black border and pictogram, warning signs are required under various regulations.
In most cases it is recommended to use photo-luminescent signs. Although slightly more expensive, they stand out significantly more than glow-in-the-dark or standard signs in the event of power loss. According to BS 5499-4:2013 and BS 5499-10:2014 photo-luminescent options have a longer viewing distance than normal signs – you may need fewer signs in your building. Illuminated signs can be used, but require electricity, ongoing maintenance and bulbs. Often, photo-luminescent signs are the easiest and most affordable option.
For more information, please read the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 and The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
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