Safety signage: work for specialists
This article begins in Norway, a few hundred kilometres east of the UK and caught our eye because of this message on the Norwegian website: https://www.tu.no/artikler/nok-en-korea-forsinkelse-for-forsvarets-storste-skip-kan-tidligst-leveres-tre-ar-etter-at-forgjengeren-ble-faset-ut/408214
The largest ship in the Norwegian Navy is the KNM Maud, which cost roughly € 203 million (NOK 2 billion). This 184 metres long, logistics ship will hopefully come into service in 2020. The commissioning of the vessel should actually have taken place in 2016. Four years on and after significant costs plus equally many frustrations for both the customer and ship builder, hopefully the time has finally come in 2020. The reason: the ship didn’t get through the inspections. It was designated as unsafe by DNV GL, which concluded, among other things, that “there are problems with signs indicating escape routes”. After further digging it turned out to be the escape route guidance system (low location lighting system). Designing and implementing an effective safety signage system is a job for professionals. By hiring a specialist this could have been prevented.
Specialism at the intersection between regulations and design
The fact that there wasn’t a specialist at work on the KNM Maud is clear. Even if the problem was only limited to the escape route guidance system, the available legislation (IMO/Solas) and the standards (ISO 15370) would not have been sufficient for designing and installing a logical system for marking escape routes. The legislation and standards certainly offer starting points, quality values (photoluminescense) and measurement frameworks, but conceptual thinking and coherence with all other safety signage is not a simple task. The specialism of the safety signage field is not in just hanging as many signs as possible (or even omitting them). A safety signage specialist has the ability of thinking conceptually, has knowledge of legislation, (international) standards, material types and, through practical experience, knows how safety signage should be designed as a coherent system. Regrettably, we still see it every day at onshore, offshore and maritime locations: the lack of signage or a jumble of signs and stickers that all scream for attention, sometimes with conflicting messages, where a sense of safety is hard to find. The result of an attitude, which on the one hand might be driven by cost savings and on the other hand of an attitude that can best be described as ‘putting up some signs, how difficult is that?’
Safety signage as a system and component of policy
So then how do you ask yourself, ‘In what way does a specialist set to work?’ When designing a safety signage system, a specialist will at all times have the objective that health and safety signage primarily communicates a uniform translation of the safety policy through graphic symbols. Functioning and effectiveness are determined by a consistently designed, safety signage system.
Markings, statements and instructions are harmoniously designed and implemented, wherein comprehensibility and recognisability are of key importance. Consistent use of international standards for the components of the system promotes uniformity and comprehensibility.
In summary: when all this is done, the components of the safety signage system will fit in with the safety policy and will be in line with the safety training courses of an organization. When safety signage is implemented as a system, the effectiveness is optimal and the system will support the organization in meeting legal requirements.
Implementation and installation by certified personnel
Specialism may also be seen in the implementation and installation of safety signage. When installing safety signs, pipe marking, tank marking and evacuation plans, we think of the correct height, positioning (the message must be visible) and the correct mounting materials. The right installation is just as essential as the design of the system. For Blomsma Signs & Safety this is the reason for regularly training all our installation teams in assembly techniques and materials by which we’re able to carry the ‘3M™ Certified Safety Sign Installer” designation.
All in all, safety signage is more than just a collection of signs and also more than just doing what’s necessary to meet the requirements of an inspection agency or classification body. Effective and consistent safety signage is the work of a specialist, who consciously strives for a situation where employees and visitors are informed in a uniform and clear way about key information for their personal safety.
Do you also want to take steps towards an effective signage system, or are you experiencing similar problems in your project? Just contact us at: +31 (0)79 330 10 90 or sent us an e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.