Written by Steve Hudgik
The best and most obvious way to increase safety in a work setting is to eliminate all potential safety hazards. Unfortunately, many hazards are featured in critical and necessary components of a work setting, making their removal unfeasible. If a hazard can not be eliminated, a protective guard should be used. If that is not feasible, the next best method of preventing injuries due to hazards in the work place is to post safety signs in compliance with OSHA and ANSI standards.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 states that it is the employer's responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their employees and provide them with safety training and education. Observing OSHA standards should be a high priority for any workplace, and using visible and easy to understand OSHA safety compliance signs is an effective way of doing so.
OSHA code states that safety compliance signs must be used, but it is the American National Standards Institute’s safety sign standards that specify the proper format, colors, and symbols for compliance signs. It is the most commonly used standard for sign design for any safety label or sign posted on machinery, products and buildings.
In order for safety signs and labels to be compliant, they must strictly follow OSHA and ANSI regulated standards. OSHA states that there should be no variation in the design of a workplace’s signs that warn of a specific danger or radiation hazard. For example, a compliant Danger sign should be specified only for extremely dangerous conditions to signify that extra precautions are necessary. A compliant sign layout features the “DANGER” heading printed in white letters on a red background and is accompanied by the safety alert symbol. The message of the compliance sign should be printed in black on a white background or white on a background.
Similar criteria is required for compliance signs indicating different levels of hazard, including signs that feature “WARNING”, “CAUTION”, and “NOTICE” headers. The headers must be accompanied by the safety alert symbol if there is a risk of personal injury.
To avoid confusion, your signs should be consistent throughout your facility. If your workplace features signs with any discontinued headers, they should be replaced with the currently preferred style of ANSI.
Read more about ANSI standards for sign-making and symbols
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