Sign Sense

3 steps to risk signage management – everyone’s responsibility

With the new regulations now in effect, the main focus of this edition is fire safety. Fire safety doors, emergency exit signage, evacuation maps and master fire plans all fall under part of your accommodations lawful compliance.

Safety signage is everyone’s responsibility so we are showing you three steps to help you cover your duty of care and make your job easier. When a signwriter is asked to look through a complex and see what signage is needed, they often come up against protests from body corporate, building managers or owners who don’t want to spend more money than they think is absolutely necessary.

Well I’m here to tell you that safety signage is absolutely necessary! There are three levels of care that you need to take responsibility for in order to protect yourself and your guests. Missing just one of these steps could lead to thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation. I don’t know anyone that enjoys being sued or the toll on their conscience should something serious happen.

1. Lawful compliance – There are a few signs that are required by law, such as pool depth, resuscitation signs around a pool and a sign above the emergency stop button on a spa. No smoking signs in common areas and the fire safety signage mentioned above are also enforced on every premises.

2. High risk duty of care – Signs in this category are designed to help protect your clients from dangerous situations or damage, while also protecting you from costly liability suits. Some of these include: – pool, spa and BBQ rules, maximum height bars in carparks or driveways and slippery when wet signs.

3. Duty of care – In this step, the signs involved are created to warn your clients of potential danger and clear you of any responsibility in case something should go wrong. Remember signs like the following examples are all warning signs to protect your clients, your property and your pocket: Pool operating hours, trespassers will be prosecuted, clear your car of all valuables, or no bikes, no skateboards, no scooters.

A good example of the need to follow these steps comes from a case a few years back where a man was paid $228,489.00 in damages because there was no sign telling him that the pool area would be locked after 9.30pm. He knew the operating hours but he didn’t know that the area would be locked or that there were alternative exits which were not clearly visible in the dark. The building manager had conducted a search prior to locking the area but it was ruled that the search was defective as his presence had not been detected. The case was ruled in the favour of the plaintiff and the judge suggested precautions body corporate/resort managers should take regarding common property.

Could you afford to pay this sort of fine and the court costs? It is in your best interest to evaluate your buildings risks and protect yourself.

Some of these examples seem common sense but I have seen time and time again examples of a client getting themselves into stupid situations and it ending up costing the owner hundreds of thousands in damages. Putting these steps into practice seems cheap in comparison doesn’t it?

Signwriters are often engaged to manufacture pylon signs, A-boards or building naming signs, yet their role in safety sign evaluation is seen as secondary. The safety of your clients, staff and visitors falls on the back of each body corporate, building manager and owner. There’s no buck passing here. It is your responsibility to take action now and save the future of your business.

Signage plays such a big part in accommodation. It easy to realise every resort needs room numbers, yet we can overlook the need of good safety signage. A good signwriter will start at the front of your premises and work their way through your building. A pair of fresh eyes can ensure that your reception is easy to find, that there is adequate directional signage for parking and lifts, and to check you are managing your risks.

Listen to good advice and take responsibility of your duty of care. This could be your sign to save a life.

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