Three ideas: health and safety signs

The no-smoking sign

One of the most distinctive -and most hotly debated - health and safety symbols, the no-smoking sign has become a depressingly regular reminder of laws brought in during 2007 requiring all smokers to feed their habit outside the walls of public places.

The HSIER poster is a delightful blend of dubious stock photography and wipe-clean municipal design

Although the signs do tend to ruin the aesthetic of many carefully thought-out shops and bars, it is a necessary evil - failing to display the symbol clearly throughout your premises will see you fined.

As a business owner, you are required to display no-smoking signs in all public places, workplaces and vehicles. In addition to this, at each entrance to your premises you need to make sure you display a symbol at least A5 (210mm x 148mm) size, which contains the worlds 'No smoking: it is against the law to smoke in these premises'.

Make sure your no-smoking symbol meets the right requirements: according to the regulations, the symbol 'consists solely of a graphic representation of a single burning cigarette enclosed in a red circle of at least 70 millimetres in diameter with a red bar across it'. Anything more creative, and you risk a fine.

The fire exit symbol

Not the most beautiful of signs, the fire exit sign was introduced in 1990 after the European Union decided it was about time any European lost in a burning building should be able to find their way out quickly and easily.

In the UK, it comprises of three parts: an arrow, a symbol of a man running through a door, and the word 'exit'. These can be used in any combination.
The positioning of fire exit signs are of particular importance: get it wrong, and your customers and employees could be risking their lives in an emergency.

The principles for sign positioning include 'defining the shortest travel distance from various evacuation starting points to the escape route' - although if there is a choice of two escape routes of equal distance, you must sign both.

Make sure you use arrows effectively: it goes without saying that if you have them pointing the wrong way, lives could be at risk.

Health and Safety Information for Employees Regulations (HSIER) poster

Introduced as a 'visually appealing' replacement of an older version earlier this year, the HSIER poster is nevertheless a delightful blend of dubious stock photography and wipe-clean municipal design.

All the same, the poster, which details employers' and workers' basic responsibilities for health and safety in the workplace, as well as measures to take if there is a problem, must be displayed somewhere obvious. If you really can't bear to display it in all its laminated glory, though, you can buy pocket-sized cards instead, which you must hand out to each employee.

The poster must also include the name and contact details of at least two health and safety representatives for the organisation. It's available in standard, 'semi-rigid' (ooo-err) and pocket versions from the HSE from £7.34.

Image: Flickr

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