Safety signage plays an important role at hazardous worksites, protecting workers from danger and guiding them to safety if an emergency occurs. Given their function, OSHA has established standards for safety signs in tandem with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
What’s the Difference Between OSHA and ANSI Safety Sign Standards?
OSHA’s mission is to develop and enforce better safety standards in the workplace. As a federal agency, it is empowered to identify workplace safety infractions and hold the company accountable.
ANSI is a third party, nonprofit organization that develops standards aimed at better safety for workers, consumers, and the environment. ANSI’s standards are frequently adopted by other agencies – including OSHA – but ANSI has no enforcement power on its own.
Regarding safety signs, OSHA has adopted ANSI’s design standards for signage – specifically, ANSI’s 2011 standards. ANSI introduced a new standard in 2017, but OSHA is still working off the older set of guidelines.
To be OSHA compliant, the 2011 ANSI standard is currently sufficient, but it makes sense for employers to stay ahead of the regulatory curve and integrate the 2017 ANSI standard. By doing so, companies can ensure OSHA compliance for longer and provide higher quality signage, as the newest ANSI standard does refine some of the design principles behind occupational safety signage.
How are Safety Instruction Signs Regulated by OSHA and ANSI?
The 2011 standard that OSHA operates with references the following types of signs:
- Caution signs – Caution signs are intended to point out hazards that could cause minor or moderate injury if proper precautions are not observed. They must include a CAUTION signal word in black against a yellow background. ANSI standards also recommend the use of universal symbols that workers can understand regardless of their preferred language.
- Danger signs – Danger signs are intended for hazards that will cause severe injury or death without proper precautions. They must include a DANGER signal word and a red signal color that communicates high risk. Again, symbols are recommended for danger signs.
- Instruction signs – Safety instruction signs do not point out hazards, instead, they provide information to workers that can help with overall worksite safety. For example, instruction signs may be used to point out where medical stations, eye wash stations or showers may be located.Instruction signs are color-coded green and any type is white, unless it’s placed on a black background.
ANSI’s 2017 standard adds to the above signage categories with the following types of safety signs:
- Warning signs – Warning signs sit between Danger and Caution signs in terms of severity. They’re intended for hazards that may cause moderate or severe injury if precautions aren’t taken. They must include a WARNING signal word and an orange signal color.
- Notice signs – Notice signs are similar to instruction signs in that they are not used to identify hazards. Instead, notice signs provide additional information that may help everyone protect themselves from harm. For example, a notice sign may be used to point out restricted areas or remind people to wash their hands.
Warning and notice signs are not required by OSHA under ANSI’s 2011 guidelines, but as regulatory compliance tends to thicken with time, it’s likely that the 2017 standard will eventually be adopted.
In addition to the types and design of safety signs, OSHA also regulates signage placement. According to OSHA standards, safety signs must be mounted so they are clearly visible before anyone enters the hazard’s proximity. The signage must be mounted at every angle that workers may approach the hazard from.
Three Reasons to Work with a Commercial Printer for Occupational Safety Signs
On hazardous worksites, employers need high quality and high quantities of occupational signage. Again, every hazard must be adequately marked by signage and it must be marked from every angle, so a single hazard may require several signs for compliance reasons.
Given these considerable signage needs, many companies choose to work with an experienced commercial printer to meet them. Here are three benefits to working with a professional printing company for safety signage:
- Production volumes – Commercial printers have unmatching printing resources in terms of equipment and printing mediums. With a large facility, advanced printing technologies and additional manpower to work with, commercial printers can deliver large runs of occupational signage with minimal lead times. For clients that have an immediate need for safety signage, a commercial printer can provide the fastest turnaround without sacrificing product quality.
- Compliant signage specifications – Some commercial printers have industry-specific experience – including experience working with contractors, industrial facilities, manufacturing centers, warehouses, and any other facility that needs safety signs.For example, a commercial printer experienced in safety signage will have a library of signage designs that meet OSHA regulations. These signs come with ANSI and OSHA-approved colors, tags, symbols, and text, so employers can choose the designs they prefer without fear of noncompliance.
- Specialty printing processes – Experienced printers may have hard-to-find printing technologies and resources in place that expand their capabilities. This is especially helpful for heavy duty worksites, where signs will be regularly exposed to weather, water, dirt, and the occasional impact. These signs must be printed on durable materials that can produce vivid colors and sharp letters.A proven way to do this is to print on aluminum using a technique called dibond printing. Dibond printing is an esoteric process that requires specialized technology and expertise, but it’s effective for creating quality aluminum signage products that are durable, corrosion resistant, lightweight, and vivid in appearance. It’s the perfect printing process for occupational signage, and it’s only available through select commercial printers.
Reputable commercial printing companies are also dedicated to reliable customer service. If their client’s signage needs change, or suddenly ramp up, a commercial printer can make the necessary adjustments quickly.
Work with a Commercial Printer to Ensure Your Safety Signage is OSHA and ANSI Compliant
Occupational signage is a valuable element of every worksite’s safety plan, but it must be OSHA compliant (and therefore ANSI compliant) to protect companies from liability. Further, safety signage must be durable and clearly visible, so high quality printing materials and processes are a must.
A commercial printing company can assist with all of the above, with OSHA compliant signage designs that are ready to display and keep your crews aware and safe.