Don’t panic over ISO 7010
It is a measure of how slow the wheels in Brussels turn that ISO 7010 covering Hazard Warning and Safety Signs has taken 10 years to arrive as a true European Standard. First published in 2003 as ISO 7010 the final version (EN) ISO 7010 must be adopted by all member states effective from January 2013, and British Standards have now published the UK version as BS EN ISO 7010 consigning our own BS5499 to the waste bin.

The new standard draws heavily on the proven principles contained in BS5499 in ensuring graphic symbols in particular, are clear, unambiguous and identifiable irrespective of the viewer’s language or culture. Given the massive migration of peoples between countries within the EU this objective clearly makes sense at all levels regarding health and safety provision.

In practice UK manufacturers of hazard warning and safety signs have anticipated the introduction of BS EN ISO 7010 to the extent that all current signs are already compliant with the new standard and have been so for several years not least because the original EU time table suggested its introduction by 2011 at the latest.

Of course this does not mean you can ignore it! The responsible person, as defined in the RRO and under health and safety legislation has a duty to ensure safety signs are compliant with best practice i.e. BS EN ISO 7010. Property owners and managers, building and estate managers, even commercial shipping operators are required by law to identify hazards and mark the location of emergency equipment, means of escape, and safety appliances with appropriate signs.

Under the provisions of the legislation you don’t need to be panicked into changing all your signs to ISO 7010 at a stroke but if you install new safety signs or need a replacement sign then go for the ISO 7010 version. It will be hard not to as the non-compliant BS5499 versions are no longer in production. That said if you wish to adopt best practice- and frankly you should – it is best not to mix symbols from the old and new standards particularly in critical applications like signage for fire escape routes or in identifying hazardous substances where any confusion can cost lives.

Our advice is to conduct a simple audit to identify any potential problems and omissions with safety signage as a normal part of your fire risk assessment and safety management regime. You can then put in place a renewal schedule to ensure ongoing compliance.