Construction sites are among the most dangerous workplaces in the world, and the numbers bear this out. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 150,000 construction site accidents occur every year, and more than 1,000 workers die annually from such accidents.
Worse, many of these accidents are preventable, but how can site managers prevent them? There are several essential components to any site safety plan, and safety signage should be among them.
At construction sites, safety signage is a passive layer of accident prevention, providing workers and visitors with the information they need to avoid accidents. This signage is not only useful, it is also required by federal agencies.
Who Regulates the Use of Safety Signage at Construction Sites?
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) are responsible for regulating safety signage on construction sites. Here’s what each have to say on the subject:
- OSHA – OSHA requires employers to ensure a safe workplace through its General Duty Clause. The agency dives deeper into safety signage in its 1910.145 standard. This standard specifies several categories of safety signage, what they’re used for and how they should look, in general. The OSHA standard also specifies where safety signs should be used.
- ANSI – The ANSI goes into greater detail regarding the visual design of safety signage, including the size and color of the sign’s lettering. It also has guidelines for what signal words should be used and where they should be placed on the sign.
To ensure your construction site is in compliance, you’ll need signage that adheres to the above standards.
The Seven Types of Safety Signage That Every Construction Site Should Have
There are many types of safety signs, but there are seven that should be featured at most construction sites. They include:
- Danger signs – Danger signs are given a bright red color and marked with a DANGER signal word. These signs are used to point out the most serious hazards – the ones likely to cause severe injury or death. What sets danger signs apart is that they mark hazards that have an extremely high (or certain) likelihood of causing serious injuries. This includes hazards like electrocution, high falls, hazardous chemicals or extreme pressures or heat.
- Warning signs – Warning signs are colored orange and marked with a WARNING signal word. These signs point out hazards that aren’t as serious as those marked by danger signs, but more serious that those used with caution signs. OSHA dictates that warning signs should be used for hazards that may cause serious injury or death but aren’t certain to do so. This could include vehicle traffic areas, cutting, crushing, or pinning risks.
- Caution signs – Caution signs are yellow and marked with a CAUTION signal word. They’re placed around hazards that could result in minor or moderate injuries. You’ll most often find a caution sign around areas where unsafe work practices could lead to danger. For example, you may see caution signs around low fall hazards or in areas where forklifts are operating.
- General safety (informational) signs – General safety signs are typically colored green and are not used to point out hazards. Instead, they offer general safety information that may be relevant should an accident occur. For instance, general safety signs are typically used to point out where first aid stations or kits are located, as well as eye wash stations, PPE lockers, and other health-related resources.
- Fire safety signs – Fire safety signs are red and white in color and are used to point out fire-related exits, equipment, or protection. For example, you may see a fire safety sign around fire extinguishers, protective wear, or close to a fire exit.
- Notice signs – Notice signs are usually a dark navy color and provide information that can help people avoid a potential accident. The difference between notice signs and other safety signs is that notice signs usually concern accidents that would only result in property damage.
- Admittance signs – Admittance signs are placed around the site’s perimeter and at entrance points. Their purpose is to alert people that they are entering a restricted area and may encounter hazards, as a result. Admittance signs often look like caution signs, with the same colors and iconography.
As you can see, you’ll need a lot of signs to ensure a safe site for construction workers and visitors. The challenge, then, is sourcing all of the signs your site needs.
An Experienced Commercial Printer can Provide our Construction Site with Signage
Construction safety signs are placed in high-activity areas where dust, moisture and vibration are unavoidable environmental hazards. Durability and visibility are therefore a must with construction signs, and it will take an experienced commercial printer to provide both.
For instance, if your commercial printer has experience with construction signage, they will have printing processes that can be used with durable materials like metal. Dibond printing is one such process and is used to print safety messaging on aluminum. During dibond printing, a pair of aluminum panels are layered on both sides of a foam core and the image is printed directly on the metal.
Aluminum is a popular choice for construction signs because it resists all kinds of damage well. This includes water and dust, as well as impact and corrosion. Along coastal areas, where the salt content in the air is enough to corrode other metals, aluminum signage can be installed without fear.
Construction Sites are High-risk Workplaces, so Protect your People with Better Safety Signage
Thousands and thousands of construction workers are hurt every year while on the job, but it shouldn’t be that way. Reducing injury and fatality risks should be every site manager’s top priority, and safety signage can help with that goal. And if you’re partnered with an experienced commercial printer, you can get the signage you need at the volume you need.