New national signage guidelines to help boaters

The RNLI have produced new guidelines for slipway operators which the charity hope will make slipways safer for those that use them.

The guidelines have been developed by the RNLI during a two-year research and consultation programme in partnership with the UK Harbour Masters Association, UK Port Authorities and local councils.

Research showed that at slipway locations around the coast of the UK and Ireland, users are often bombarded with different types of signs and a variety of information – public, statutory, hazards and safety. The variety of different messages, materials, colours and sizes of signs can lead to public confusion and ‘sign blindness’.

To help combat ‘sign blindness’ the RNLI’s consultation culminated in the trial of the newly devised standard for signage in seven locations across Devon, Dorset, Hampshire and on the River Thames in London in August 2007.

The success of the trial helped identify three categories of signs suitable for display on public slipways: access signs, reminder signs and daily conditions signs.

It also resulted in the final development of the ‘RNLI’s Guide to Slipway Safety Signs and Symbols’.

The RNLI hopes that standardising signage around the coast of the UK and Ireland will help to reduce the number of accidents and lifeboat launches.

Sea Safety Programmes Manager for the RNLI, Tony Wafer says: “Ultimately I hope that RNLI slipway safety signs will be adopted nationwide by slipway owners and operators because we want to encourage all slipway users to have a clearer understanding of the local hazards, by-laws, tides and what to do in an emergency to help them stay safe on the water.”

The creation of the RNLI’s Slipway Safety Signage Guide follows on from the success of its Beach Safety signage Guide launched in 2005.