Industrial and Occupational Safety Signs Protect Workers and Ensure Compliance
There are millions of workplace injuries every year in the U.S., and it’s likely that many of them could be prevented with better safety signage. That’s because safety signage alerts workers to potential workplace hazards and establishes proper safety protocols.
Industrial and occupational signs come in a massive array of designs, but these designs must adhere to OSHA’s standards. That’s why it’s important for companies to work with an experienced commercial printer. An experienced printer is aware of OSHA signage regulations and can therefore ensure compliant signs.
Four Reasons Why Industrial Safety Signs are Important
Every active worksite requires safety signage to operate safely and professionally. Given the low cost of signage and ease of placement, better safety doesn’t require a large investment. And it’s an investment worth making for a few reasons, including:
- Reinforcing safety measures and preventing injuries – There may be dozens of hazards on a single worksite, which can be a lot for workers to keep track of. Safety signage promotes greater awareness of these hazards and therefore reduces the likelihood of worker injury.
Safe worksites are compliant worksites, and to ensure safety your organization will need a risk management plan in place. An important part of a risk management plan is getting workers to follow procedures. Safety signage can reinforce your organization’s safety, reminding employees to follow all safety rules.
- Ensuring compliance with federal workplace safety guidelines – There are multiple OSHA regulations relevant to safety signage and its placement. In addition to OSHA 29 CFR 1910.145, which dictates where safety signage is required, there is OSHA’s General Duty clause. The General Duty clause requires employers to minimize the risk of all potential workplace hazards, and the use of safety signage falls under the General Duty clause umbrella.
OSHA violations are expensive to begin with, as each violation costs more than $13,000 in fines. Employers that knowingly violate OSHA regulations face fines 10 times higher, with more than $130,000 per incident. Beyond fines, OSHA can revoke operational licenses and even leverage criminal charges in extreme cases.
In short, remaining OSHA compliant is important, and safety signage is part of that compliance.
- Warning visitors or trespassers away from restricted areas – Safety signage can also be used to establish boundaries between work areas and publicly accessible areas. With open worksites, people may accidentally trespass onto the property. Safety signage can warn these people away.
- Establishing a sense of professionalism at the job site – Contractors and work crews build their reputation through reliable, safe project performance. Safety signage communicates to your workers, to other project teams and to clients that your crew runs a safe operation.
What Standards Must Occupational Safety Signs Meet?
Safety signage must adhere to certain design requirements established by the federal government. These design guidelines ensure optimal visibility and readability, so workers have the information they need at a glance.
These design guidelines include:
- The size of the lettering – The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has published letter-size standards for safety signage. To determine the ideal lettering size for visibility, you first need to know the minimal safe viewing distance. This distance is the minimum needed to read the sign and respond to its directions before encountering a hazard. Also, if unfavorable viewing conditions are common, then the lettering will need to be larger than normal.
In favorable viewing conditions, minimal letter height may be under an inch for signs placed just a few feet away from hazards. For a sign that’s 50 feet away, letters must be at least 2” high. For a sign that’s 200 feet away, letters will need to be 8” high. An experienced commercial printer will know the exact distance-to-height ratio.
- The sign’s color coding – Occupational and industrial signage follows standardized color coding for better information delivery. ANSI also defines these standards and they’re considered a must-follow when OSHA standards are not defined.
Red, for example, is used with hazards that pose a high risk of severe injury or death. Orange is reserved for guarding devices and moderate risk of injury. Yellow is for lower risk hazards (falls, slips, etc.) and used for caution messaging. Green provides information on safety or first aid equipment.
Pairing the right safety messaging and right color is essential for compliant safety signage.
In addition to design guidelines, there are also placement guidelines for employers to follow. Specifically, employers must place signage in close proximity to any hazard they reference, and the signage must be visible from a distance. Further, safety signage cannot be placed on or adjacent to anything that moves, like a sliding glass door.
Quality Printing Ensures Your Safety Signage Does the Job
Industrial and occupational signage is typically placed in dust and moisture-filled environments, so it must be durable. This means printing the signage on durable material like aluminum. Printing on metal, though, is a challenge for printers that aren’t familiar with certain printing methods. Specifically, it’s the dibond process that printers must know to create rugged safety signage.
During dibond printing, a pair of painting aluminum sheets are placed on either side of a polyethylene core. The aluminum and polyethylene are both water and weatherproof, and aluminum is also highly resistant to corrosion. This makes dibond-printed signs the ultimate option for rugged worksites.
Techniques like dibond printing are only available to experienced printers, though, so it’s important to work with such a printer. That way, your organization will have high quality industrial occupational safety signs it can count on in any work setting.