FAQs with our MD on signage safety

Getting noticed in the press can be great for business…it can also be quite the opposite if you are featured due to a serious accident. 

Falling signage is a situation businesses never want to find themselves in.  Managing signage safety is an essential way to avoid this and keep customers and employees safe.

As we start to take the first steps out of a national lockdown, the preparations for retail, leisure and commercial locations to reopen are gaining pace.  There is one very important, but often overlooked, area to consider. Have you ensured your location signage is up to date, safe and ready for that all exciting reopening?

Every business has a duty of care to their staff, customers and the general public – maintaining safe signage is essential to deliver this duty.

This month Facilities Management Journal asked Fraser Burns, Managing Director at Cygnia Maintenance, the UK’s largest provider of specialist sign maintenance, sign repairs and image protection services a round of quick fire questions on the areas to consider when reviewing your signage needs as the country gets back to business.

What should business owners focus on before opening again?

Health and safety must without doubt be the first priority.  Winter weather and empty premises may have seen signs damaged and health and safety issues that would have normally been raised by diligent shop staff missed.  It is not possible to see damage by just looking at a sign, especially signs located at great height. Often it isn’t the signage that has failed; it is the poor condition of background materials and fixings that fasten it to the wall.  No business should assume that signage is safe and secure and without a detailed health and safety check.

Signage is the first impression your business can make. A clean, illuminated and well maintained sign will present your business at its best and allow you to stand out against your competitors.

You have a large national team of experienced engineers, what are the most repetitive signage issues your teams see?

Apart from the bus stop signage that we see damaged by delivery drivers on a daily basis!  The issues we see all too often are illumination faults, bird mess and signs installed without adequate weather proof flashing.

Worst still we see over cladding and most worryingly signs fixed over old signage and to deteriorating timber sub-fascia and or signs installed with insufficient or inappropriate fixings for the sub-fascia and substrate.  These can all lead on to much bigger issues and most are due to either a lack of or inconsistent maintenance and management.  These issues all bring potential risk.

How can facilities managers best manage signage risk and ensure staff and customers are safe?

Risk can be managed by quite simply managing the security of fixings across your estate.   Our intrusive inspections allow our clients to actually understand what is above their staff and customers’ heads!   Suspected safety issues are investigated using market leading portable testers to test the crucial holding force of anchors and fixings of the signage through every level.  The issues can then be quickly resolved and managed.  The consequences of not taking action can vary greatly; from a poor business image and damage to your signage, to a dangerous incident involving a customer or member of your team from a falling sign.

Ultimately we would recommend all business owners undertake at least one full estate review annually.   This can then be tailored based on findings to best suit on-going needs.  This will dependent upon many factors including age of estate, locations (including localised guttering and drainage) and usage.

The pandemic has reshaped many businesses, especially retail. What advice would you give as the most cost effective way to manage estate signage when businesses are struggling to find budget?

After a tough year for many businesses we work with our clients to implement maintenance programmes based upon sound risk assessment principles (likelihood v severity).

On a recent Cygnia customer review those that have a Planned Preventative Maintenance programme (PPM) in place had fewer health and safety issues and extended the life of their signage compared to customers who manage their estates on a reactive basis.  Within a PPM our engineers are able to identify issues and quickly resolve to avoid the need for signage replacement.

For those clients who are not in a position to undertake a full estate PPM we suggest a review of 5 – 10% sample selection of the estate with a fully intrusive service to really understand the condition and overall support needed for the entire estate.   This gives detailed information allowing further fact based decision making.

Managing your estate with reactive maintenance support leaves you exposed to potentially unexpected capital expenditure. A PPM programme helps you manage budgets and actually reduce reactive maintenance spend.  Our PPM clients receive our essential ‘Sign Health Check’ to test the safety, security and effectiveness of their current signage fixings. A signage asset register can also be built advising age, condition and estimated life expectancy so you are able to forecast spending and be proactive rather than reactive.

Cygnia Maintenance are focussed on delivering sustainable solutions.  Our engineers can improve both the condition and energy efficiency of your signage.  LED retrofits provide much needed efficiency and financial pay back as well as improved visual appearance.

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