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Buyer Obligations

Ultimate responsibility for sign maintenance and inspection rests with the sign owner

The need for sign maintenance and inspection is a legal requirement in three different statutory regulations, with the potential for criminal proceedings against those not complying.

The Health & Safety at Work Act requires;

"Maintenance of it in a condition that is safe and without risks to health"

Building regulations require;

"The inspection and maintenance of any services, fittings or equipment so provided"

Town & Country Planning regulations require;

"The advertisement (sign) must not endanger any person"
"Any structure or hoarding used must be maintained in a safe condition"

  • The sign owner is also responsible for the maintenance, inspection and necessary repair of the structure or area that the sign is fixed to in order to comply with the above Regulations.
  • It is advisable/imperative that the installation of a sign does not go ahead if it is apparent that the structure to which the sign is being fixed to is inadequate to provide a fixing that is compliant with regulations or will lead to failure e.g. where the moisture content of a wooden structure is above 20% which will result in screw type fixings becoming inadequate.
  • A sign company is not obliged to provide a maintenance and inspection programme however Sign Companies are expected to advise how to maintain and inspect the sign. These instructions must be clear and concise in relevance to all aspects of maintenance and inspection for the sign supplied.
  • The sign must be designed and constructed so that the safety critical components can be accessed for maintenance and inspection.
  • We recommend that the sign company advise their customer in writing that the customer’s legal obligations require them to have a maintenance and inspection programme. Without such recommendation, the sign company will run the risk of liability in the event of any failure of the sign and/or the structure or area that the sign is fixed to.
  • Sign owners are not obliged to take the maintenance contract offered by the sign supplier/maker/company.
  • In the event of a customer choosing to make their own arrangements, we suggest that the sign company obtains written confirmation from their customer to this effect or acknowledge their decision in writing preferably at the time of receiving the order and at the latest when the sign is delivered/installed.

EN1990 (Basis for Structural Design) is European legislation that is included in UK Building Regulations and is a legal requirement.

Design assumptions:

  • The structure will be adequately maintained.
  • The structure will be used in accordance with the design assumptions.

Signs Express Ltd recommends that all sign buyers and owners are made aware that they must ensure compliance with these regulations and that they are provided with adequate maintenance and inspection information from the seller.

The implications of this obligation

A recent court case (in 2013) resulted in the sign owner being fined £300,000 plus £222,692 costs for not making safety checks on a sign that collapsed in strong winds. However the sign supplier was also fined £60,000 plus £22,855 costs for supposedly carrying out contractual ‘cosmetic maintenance’ of the sign.

This document has been created in accordance with the British Sign and Graphics Association (2014)

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