Written by Steve Hudgik
Proper labeling is an important part of any OSHA VPP (Voluntary Protection Program). Labeling is communication. But it's more than that. Labeling is communication delivered at the point of need.
Here's an example of what this means. We all know that training is important. Training is typically communication delivered in a classroom. While a classroom is a good place for training, it is not the point where the information is needed. For example, instructions detailing how to startup a machine are needed at the operator's panel for that machine. Another example might be preventative maintenance: a schedule showing dates and times when oil levels should be checked, and how to know when oil needs to be added, may be appropriate on the machine that needs the lubrication. For communication, the point of need is the physical location, and the point in time, at which the information is needed.
The point of need may not be a specific static location, it may be mobile. For example, RTK labels provide important information of the contents of containers--and since they are stuck to the container they deliver their information wherever the container is located. The point of need is the container, not the container's location.
Proper labeling identifies and warns about safety hazards, as well as providing information about potential hazards. The best approach is to eliminate the cause of the hazard. But if the hazard can not be eliminated, labeling and signs should be used to identify the hazard and provide essential information.
For example, 5S is a good system that can help your VPP. A 5S program provides a systematic method for cleaning up and getting organized. Labels are often used to identify designated storage locations for tools, components, supplies and equipment, making it easy to return everything to its proper place.
Use labels and signs to provide information about processes and procedures. For example, the picture to the right shows a cabinet that contains battery charging safety equipment. Posted on the door in two languages is the procedure to be followed for charging batteries. (The labels were made using the DuraLabel).
Use labels to post operating and maintenance procedures on or near the appropriate equipment. Also use signs and labeling to identify locations within your facility, and direct people from one location to another.
Overall labeling and signs are an important part of VPP. Communication is important, and labels and signs are an effective means of communicating needed information at the point of need.
More Information: Types of Label Printers For Making Safety Signs & Labels
CEMA Safety Labels for Conveyor Systems - CEMA Web Site
University of North Carolina - Safety Labeling Information
National Institute for Standards and Technology - Safety Labeling
OSHA Hazard Communication Standards - 1910.1200
New Mexico State University - Hazard Communication Standards
Making Safety Signs - Online Tutorials
Association of Equipment Manufacturers - Safety Sign Standards
The information presented in this document was obtained from sources that we deem reliable; Graphic Products does not guarantee accuracy or completeness. Graphic Products, Inc. makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied. Users of this document should consult municipal, state, and federal code and/or verify all information with the appropriate regulatory agency.
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