There are more than 2 million nonfatal workplace injuries every year, according to OSHA. Also according to OSHA – the #2 reason for workplace accidents and injuries is a lack of safety signage. This underscores the importance of safety signage at worksites where hazards are present.
As visual indicators of hazardous work conditions, safety signage provides a critical layer of protection for workers. It also ensures OSHA compliance, as employers are required to safeguard their employees from potential injury.
Where is Safety Signage Required on Worksites?
According to OSHA 1926.200, safety signage must be present at all times while work is being performed. The section also states that safety signage must be covered or removed when the hazards are no longer present.
This is the most general interpretation of the rule. In application, though, safety signage should be placed in close proximity to the associated hazard. The rule of thumb is that the signage should be placed such that workers will not encounter the hazard before seeing the sign. And the sign should be plainly visible from at least five feet away. Proper signage design and high-quality printing will ensure both.
Three Reasons to Include Safety Signage on Hazardous Workplaces
Safety signage is essential on hazardous worksites like construction areas and industrial complexes. Here’s why:
- Safety signs help workers accurately assess risk – The primary role of safety signage is to provide at-a-glance safety information to workers. In fact, safety signs are visually designed to do just that, with standardized design concepts and signal words/colors that only take a couple seconds to process.Instant risk assessment is why OSHA categorizes safety signs according to the level of danger they represent.
CAUTION signs, for example, are intended for hazards that can cause minor or moderate injury. WARNING signs are for hazards that may cause severe injury or death, and DANGER signs are for hazards that will cause death if the proper precautions aren’t taken.
Each of these classifications gets its own signal word, color, and iconography – standards defined by OSHA and the American National Standards Institute. These standards are designed for maximum visibility and rapid understanding, so workers can interpret and respond to critical safety information as quickly as possible. This could be a life and death difference for your employees.
- Safety signs facilitate a faster emergency response – Some safety signage is designed to aid in an emergency response. Emergency exit signage, first aid station signage and fire extinguisher signage are standout examples. Other signs can point out showers, eye wash stations and cooling stations (for heat-related hazards).With this signage in place, workers will be able to respond faster if an accident does occur. Again, this could be a life and death difference.
- Safety signs ensure compliance with safety regulations – It’s not possible to avoid every workplace accident that eventually occurs, but employers are responsible for avoiding as many preventable accidents as possible. If this responsibility isn’t met, employers may be fined for every violation – a bill that can quickly add up if widespread signage violations are present.
Safety signs play several roles in worker protection, so it’s important to have a reliable signage supplier partnering with your organization’s safety standards.
A Commercial Printer Can Provide the Safety Signage Your Worksite Needs
Hazard signage should be placed in exposed areas where the signs are expected to take some punishment. Weather, heat, dirt, and the occasional impact all test safety signage, and it’s critical that the signage pass the test. In practice, this means partnering with a commercial printer with experience developing safety signs.
Here’s a few reasons to prioritize a commercial printer partnership:
- Commercial printers know how to create durable signage – Commercial printers have access to printing technologies you won’t find anywhere else. This includes technologies designed to print on durable materials like aluminum – a process termed dibonding.With the ability to print on metals, commercial printers can deliver signage that’s designed to withstand common environmental hazards. Aluminum signs, for instance, offer superior protection against dust and fine debris, while also resisting corrosion – a significant benefit in the salt-heavy air along the Gulf Coast.
- Commercial printers can produce safety signs at volume – Commercial printing equipment is also designed to print large runs of signage. For companies with multiple projects, each developing at their own pace, it can be difficult to stay on top of safety signage requirements. With a volume-capable commercial printer, though, companies can secure excellent lead times on all their signage needs.
- Commercial printers have certified signage designs in place – Safety signs must meet OSHA’s and ANSI’s design standards to be considered compliant, so not just any warning or caution sign will do.Reputable commercial printers know this, which is why many have a library of safety sign designs, appropriate for any type of hazard. With this library of certified designs to pull from, commercial printers can guarantee their signs are compliant.
Make Sure Your Safety Plan Includes Safety Signage from a Reputable Signage Company
Every year, thousands of injuries could be prevented with the proper use of safety signs. As such, employers need to put together a safety plan, and with a reputable printing company on board, businesses have a printing partner that can meet their signage needs and keep their crews safely productive.