UK adopts new standard for safety signs
April 25, 2012barriehol
Although ISO 7010 has been around since 2003 the UK has continued to use British Standard 5499 as the template for all safety signage. This year this is set to change with the final adoption of ISO 7010 as a European norm ISO EN 7010. Effectively the Standard has become European law thereby obliging the UK, as a member state, to adopt it. Despite its name the ISO (International Standards Organisation) is essentially a European animal and the adoption of ISO EN7010 outside of Europe is entirely at the discretion of individual nations. The grand design that envisages the same safety signage in use worldwide is still a distant prospect.
Not unlike, in fact very like BS5499 the new European Standard uses symbols or pictograms to get the message over, many almost indistinguishable from the UK standard but all designed to be understood irrespective of language; recognition that across Europe at least the workforce now comprises an eclectic mix of nationalities with varying fluency in the country’s native language.
Fortunately after several false starts the final emergence of ISO EN 7010 has been well trailed in advance and many manufacturers have sensibly jumped the gun with the introduction of ISO 7010 compliant safety signs. Fire Protection Centre has already taken action to ensure availability of the new signage.
There is no need for businesses in the UK to panic as it is more than likely that when the full detail is published the implementation will be phased and will certainly not require businesses to remove and replace their existing BS5499 safety signs. More likely is that if you purchase any new safety signs that are included in the catalogue of EN 7010 symbols you should opt for the new standard version.
Although the new ISO 7010 pictograms will become universal across Europe this does not mean signage within the UK or other Euro member States cannot carry text based instructions alongside the graphic in the native language so English speakers – or rather readers, may notice very little difference to our existing BS5499 signage.