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UK Fire Safety Sign Regulations

Updated: 3 days ago

fire extinguisher sign

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) implemented the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 which requires employers to be compliant with the rules facing the compulsory application of fire safety signs in the workplace.


 

What are Fire Safety Signs for?

 

Fire safety signs are used to warn people of any fire hazards and to also instruct and direct people towards fire exits and fire equipment in the case of a fire emergency. The fire safety signs should have clear and concise instructions about what actions to perform during a fire and where to go.


Some types of fire safety signs include the following:


  • Emergency Exit and Emergency Door Release Signs

  • Escape Route Location Signs

  • Safe Condition Signs

  • Fire Alarm and Equipment Signs

  • Fire Action Signs

  • Prohibition Signs

  • Mandatory Signs


Glow in the dark safety signs should also be used to ensure all fire safety signs can be seen at all times, especially in the case of low visibility or low lighted environments.


There is a selection of fire safety signs and by law, workplaces and premises must put up the appropriate signs and make sure they are visible for everyone to see. Not only should the signs warn people what to do and where to go, they will also identify any prohibited actions such as no access areas.


 

Legislation & Regulations that Apply to Fire Safety Signs


The the UK there are 2 main pieces of legal framework that provide instruction on the installation of fire safety signs. These regulations give clear guidance that should be applied to all relevant premises, including workplaces and HMO's.


The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996



An emergency escape or first-aid sign means a sign giving information on escape routes or emergency exits or first-aid or rescue facilities. A fire safety sign means a sign (including an illuminated sign or an acoustic signal) which:


(i)    Provides information on escape routes and emergency exits in case of fire;


(ii)   Provides information on the identification or location of fire-fighting equipment; or


(iii)  Gives warning in case of fire.


The regulations also state that the “signboards are to be installed at a suitable height and in a position appropriate to the line of sight, taking account of any obstacles, either at the access point to an area in the case of a general hazard, or in the immediate vicinity of a specific hazard or object and in a well-lit and easily accessible and visible location.”


Essentially HSE gives us the following guidance when installing fire exit signs:


  • Must be a suitable height

  • Within line of sight and view unobstructed

  • Well lit and easily visible

  • In close proximity to the fire hazards


This ensures that the fire safety signs are always visible and will provide clear instruction for everyone.

 

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005


This legislation is a vital part of meeting UK fire safety standards. This piece of legislation states that a responsible person should be appointed in a workplace, otherwise the responsibility of fire safety falls on another person in a superior position, e.g. Owner, Employer or Occupier.


The duties of a person responsible for fire safety are outlined in this piece of legislation and consist of the following the following:


  1. Carry out fire risk assessments

  2. Implement fire safety measures

  3. Maintain a fire management plan

  4. Ensure the appropriate use of fire safety signs



ISO 3864


Although adherence to ISO 3864 is not mandatory in the UK, it remains an internationally recognized standard providing guidance on fire protection and emergency evacuation.


One of the key elements of ISO 3864 is the colour specifications given for different types of safety signs to ensure they are clearly visible.


The guidance given to us from ISO 3864 provides the following standards when using fire safety signs

Sign Type

Colour Usage

ISO Colour Specification

Examples

Fire Equipment Signs

Red background, white pictogram

Red (similar to RAL 3000)

Fire extinguishers, fire hoses

Emergency Exit Signs

Green background, white pictogram

Green (similar to RAL 6032)

Emergency exits, escape routes

Prohibition Signs

Red background, white/black pictogram

Red (similar to RAL 3001)

No smoking, no open flames

Mandatory Signs

Blue background, white pictogram

Blue (similar to RAL 5017)

Must wear safety helmets, must wear eye protection

Warning Signs

Yellow or Amber background, black pictogram

Yellow (similar to RAL 1003)

General warnings, caution signs

Safe Condition Signs

Green background, white pictogram

Green (similar to RAL 6032)

First aid kits, safety equipment locations


 

 

Signs to Prevent Fires

 

Fires in the workplace are preventable if the hazards are identified and the correct safety measures are put into place to avoid any serious incidents. A regular risk assessment must be performed by fully trained and competent persons to check for any potential hazards and what measures should be implemented to eliminate or reduce the risk of a fire.


Assessing Risk

As stated by the HSE, employers must take responsibility for all workplace buildings and ensure that risk factors are reduced by adopting the correct behaviours and procedures for fire safety. The fire risk assessment will identify any potential fire ignition sources and identify which substances will burn such as wood, electrical equipment and certain chemicals.


Safety measures that can be implemented to control the identified fire risks often include:


  • Separate flammable substances and sources of ignition

  • Ensure the area is always clean and tidy to eliminate risk of accidental fires

  • Remove excess rubbish and waste

  • Enforce fire safety training for all employees and perform regular fire drills

  • Provide training on how to use fire extinguishers


Signs to Aid Escape in the Event of Fire

 

If there is a fire in the workplace, there must be working fire alarms installed to warn the workers as well as fire sprinklers installed which can help to prevent the spread of fire. The fire safety signs must also be placed so that they can be easily visible to read in the case of a fire emergency.


Employees are required to have regular fire drills so they know exactly what to do and how to follow the instructions on the signs to find the nearest fire exits. The escape route must always be kept clear with no obstructions in the path to ensure all employees can safely escape the building and the fire.


Providing directions to the Assembly Point

In the workplace some fire safety signs signify the assembly point which is a safe distance away from the building. In the event of a fire all employees will be required to make their way to the assembly point to make it easier to count everyone and determine if anyone is still missing. Fire doors should also be set up which closes any internal doors to help prevent the spread of fire.


 

Legal Requirements of Fire Safety Signs

 

It is a legal requirement for all businesses, workplaces and premises to have a sufficient amount of fire safety signs that clearly signpost instructions and any hazards or risks in case of fire.


The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 state the specific requirements for fire safety signs which includes the shape, colour and size. The specific coloured signboards must be used to permanently mark the location of hazards, fire exits and fire fighting equipment to be used by employees in the case of a fire.


Designating a Responsible Person

Each workplace must assign a ‘responsible person’ who’s role it is to regularly maintain and clean the signs to ensure they are always clear and visible to be read. If any signs get damaged or faded, it is also their responsibility to replace the signs to ensure the information can be read at all times.


 

a sign pointing to a fire exit

Types of Fire Safety Sign

 

There are various types of fire safety signs that highlight specific areas and provide different information in the case of a fire emergency.


The fire safety signs include:


Emergency Exit and emergency door release signs

These signs highlight the fire exit doors and provide a pictogram demonstration on how to correctly open the doors. Fire exit doors have security features including push to release mechanisms and these doors should only be used in emergencies.


Escape route location signs

These signs will show people the way to go to get to a fire escape or exit. This route should always be kept clear from obstructions to ensure people can get out safely.


Safe condition signs

These signs clearly show the location of certain equipment and areas such as first aid kits, rescue points or emergency eye wash stations.


Fire alarm and equipment signs

These signs will highlight where the nearest fire alarms are and the location of other equipment such as fire extinguishers and the classes of fire it can be used on, fire blankets and more.


Fire action signs

These signs provide a numbered chart of instructions on what to do in a fire. This often includes pull the alarm, find a fire escape and meet at the assembly point.


Prohibition signs

These signs inform people on what actions are prohibited in certain areas to prevent the risk of a fire. This may include no smoking, no entry or authorised personnel only.


Mandatory signs

These signs highlight the actions that must be carried out such as keep the fire exit or fire door clear and fire door keep shut which helps to prevent the spread of fire.


 

Fire Safety Sign Colour Codes

 

The fire safety signs are designed in a variety of different colours to highlight the different properties of each sign.


The colours signify:


Red – The red signs highlight danger and provide information on fire protection arrangements and are used for prohibition and fire equipment signs and the location of fire alarms.


Yellow – The yellow signs signify warnings to highlight any fire hazards such as highly flammable liquid or hazardous materials and atmospheres.


Green – The green signs symbolise emergency escape routes such as fire exits, fire doors and assembly points as well as safe condition signs such as for first aid.


Blue – The blue signs are used for mandatory signs which highlight actions that must be carried out such as fire door keep shut and fire escape clear.

 

 

Use of Signage in Fire Risk Assessments

 

A fire risk assessment will identify and hazards in the workplace that can be prevented or reduced with the implementation of certain safety measures. Such measures will include the removal of any obstruction from fire escape routes and regularly testing fire alarms and the requirement of fire equipment available close by.


A fire risk assessment will also highlight:


a. What types of fire safety signs are required and where to place

b. The must have signs will include fire exit locations

c. Where to find fire equipment such as fire alarms and fire extinguishers and fire action charts.


The implementation of fire safety signs will improve the health and safety of everyone in the workplace and will provide all the essential information on what to do in the event of a fire and how to safely escape the building.


 

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