The Ultimate Industrial Safety Signage Guide

What is industrial safety signage?

Industrial safety signage is found on worksites around the world, especially in areas where hazards cannot be removed. Safety signs are essential for communicating nearby dangers, necessary safety precautions and points of egress, so if an emergency does occur, the appropriate action can be taken.

Industrial safety signage is built for durability and visibility, so they remain useful at a distance, even after extended exposure to workplace conditions.

Why is industrial safety signage important?

Industrial safety signage is a mandatory layer of worker and visitor protection and is therefore important for several reasons. For example:

    1. It reduces the likelihood of injury – Modern industrial safety signage is designed for maximum visibility and intelligibility. This means new signs are easier to read and understand than ever. With their enhanced presence, safety signage can alert workers to nearby dangers more effectively, even with the visual and audible distractions common to an active worksite.
    2. It reinforces a commitment to safety – OSHA recognizes that safety programs are more likely to succeed if workers are encouraged to participate. Industrial safety signage is a constant reminder to workers that they should always be alert and looking out for others. It’s also difficult to convince workers to stay safe if their employer doesn’t have the most basic safety measures in place, like proper warning signage.
    3. It ensures compliance with OSHA – Preventing workplace injuries is the primary goal, but employers also have OSHA to answer to. OSHA requires employers to place industrial safety signage where hazards are present, and it requires this compliance at the administrative level. That means upper management is responsible for ensuring safety signage is present.
    4. It allows for easier wayfinding – Wayfinding means getting people from point A to point B as efficiently and safely as possible. On a hazardous worksite, better wayfinding can also help prevent injuries, particularly among people who are unfamiliar with the worksite’s layout. For instance, safety signage can help people navigate around a hazard. It can also direct people toward alternative routes in high traffic areas, as heavy traffic can increase the risk of accidents.
    5. It also helps in emergencies – Industrial safety signage is also useful for pointing out emergency exits. Should people need to suddenly evacuate from the worksite, safety signage ensures they know where to go, no matter where they are.
    6. It provides critical operational instructions – Some equipment must be handled with lockout tagout, and safety signage can be used to alert workers to this. Safety signage can also point out hazards particular to a piece of equipment, like dangerous air or oil pressure. Industrial safety signage can remind workers to perform regular maintenance on certain equipment.

Where should industrial safety signage be installed?

OSHA standards specify where industrial safety signage should be placed in an effort to maximize visibility and effectiveness. In addition to OSHA, though, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) also publishes guidelines on proper safety signage placement. On most worksites, both OSHA and ANSI standards are followed. This is what both standards require:

  • The signage must be close to the hazard – Ideally, the signage should be posted as close to the hazard as possible without sitting inside the hazardous zone.
  • The signage must be clearly visible from a distance – OSHA requires safety signage to come with a one-word “tag” that immediately conveys danger, caution or biohazard. This tag should be visible from at least five feet away and printed in a language that all workers can understand.
  • The signage cannot be placed on moveable objects – This means the sign cannot go on a window, sliding door or something similar. The signage should be secured in place and protected from accidental removal.
  • The signage cannot produce a hazard itself – Industrial safety signage is produced with rounded edges to avoid being a hazard. Further, the signage cannot be a distraction itself, which could compromise the safety of anyone working nearby.
  • The signage must be protected from exposure damage – The signage should be installed in a place where it is unlikely to be affected by nearby work efforts, the sun or weather.

What kinds of safety signage can a printing company provide

Experienced safety signage printers can work with a variety of materials and produce a full range of signage designs. This includes:

    1. Danger, warning and caution signs – OSHA and ANSI recognize three levels of risk when setting up safety signage. Caution signs are yellow and point out hazards that could result in minor or moderate injury. Danger signs are red and point out hazards that could result in major or fatal injury. Warning signs are orange and are an intermediate between the two. These three make up most industrial safety signage and are the most important. They require high quality printing and color control to ensure maximum visibility.
    2. Notice and information signs – Notice and informational signs provide important information about non-hazards. They could provide directions, point out exits or direct people to first aid or fire extinguishers.
    3. Pipe labels – Pipe labels are adhered directly to fluid-carrying pipes, and help workers identify what is being carried inside. Each label is color-coded to specify water, flammable fluids, combustible fluids or fluids that are used to extinguish fires.

What should a business look for in a safety signage printer?

Just as employers cannot compromise on their safety signage, they cannot compromise on their safety signage provider either. Here’s what to look for in your industrial safety signage company:

    1. A wide range of printing capabilities – Ideally, your signage company should be familiar with an assortment of materials that can be used for printing. That’s because safety signage has to survive in tough conditions, and it has to fit in a variety of settings. For instance, fiberglass signs offer the best durability, and can last for up to 25 years. Self-sticking vinyl and polyester, though, can fit anywhere and last five to 10 years. If your printer can work with these materials, they can provide a complete industrial safety signage solution.
    2. Experience – If a signage company has plenty of experience and clients behind their name, it’s because they know how to reliably deliver effective signs. The printing industry has also gone through major changes over the decades, so print businesses that survive are print businesses that can adapt to their clients’ needs. That’s a printer that will be around if support is needed in the future.
    3. Relevant portfolio Industrial safety signage is unlike other forms of signage, in that it must follow specific design guidelines to be in compliance. It’s important, then, to select a signage company that has experience producing signage for worksites. This will ensure you get effective, compliant signage for your site.

Industrial safety signage is a critical, and mandatory, part of every worksite’s safety plan. It relies on clear colors and clear text to be effective, so companies should consider an experienced, highly capable printer.

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