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EN7010 safety sign standard – a code of practice not legal requirement

In 2003, ISO 7010 was introduced, a new international standard for safety signs using pictograms that could be easily understood by everyone, regardless of their language, culture or ability.  In the years that followed, this standard was simply regarded as a ‘best practice recommendation’ and was largely ignored in the UK as most British companies adhered to our own BS5499 standard. From January 2013 that all changed as ISO 7010 became European Norm (EN7010), officially replacing the BS5499 standard, and has been adopted by member states throughout Europe. This has led to a great deal of confusion and misinformation, with some safety sign suppliers implying that it’s now law and that safety signs must change to comply with the new Standard. Mark Bartlett, Managing Director of Signbox, comments, “It’s a common misconception that British Standards and the more Europe-wide European Standards (EN) are law but they are not – they are Codes of Practice.  In some circumstances Standards can be given a type of legal status when they are referred to within legislation or government-issued guidance and Approved Codes of Practice.  In the case of safety signs the relevant legislation is the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations of 1996, also known as the Safety Signs Regulations.  These regulations implemented EC Directive 92/58/EEC.  However they have not been updated and there is no indication at present that they will be changed to incorporate EN7010. “Some companies are now saying that all workplace safety signs (including fire escape signs) must be replaced – but that isn’t strictly true.  Having said that, whilst there is no legal requirement to replace existing safety signs, Health and Safety guidance recommends that the two different types of signage, BS5499 and EN7010, should not be mixed in the workplace. “If your signs are being erected or installed in a building extension or refurbishment it makes sense to ensure they are all in the new style, complying with EN7010.  If it’s a new build then clearly use signs that comply with the new Standard.” In addition to its ‘corporate’ website Signbox now operates www.signboxshop.co.uk, an online store for “off the shelf” signage.  This features a comprehensive range of ready-made workplace signs including safety signs that all comply with EN7010.