In order to use safety signs and tags effectively in your facility and remain in compliance with the OSHA regulations, be sure to take these 7 basic steps.
- Identify all hazards. The first step, of course, is to identify all the potential hazards in all parts of your facility. This includes office and industrial areas as well as public areas and locations outside the main facility. And, in addition to the more obvious hazards, you must identify those that are out of the ordinary, unexpected, or not readily apparent.
- One must Select or design appropriate safety signs and tags. Once you have identified the hazards, you can select appropriate ready-made safety signs and tags or design your own signs and tags. Whichever option you choose, make sure all signs and tags conform to the requirements of the OSHA regulations (see 29 CFR 1910.145). Your signs and tags should also be consistent in format throughout your facility.
- One must ensure proper message, graphics, and colors. As per the regulations, “the message on any signs should be concise and easy to read. The sign should contain information that can be easily understood. The wording should make a positive suggestion and should be accurate in fact.” Pictographs that graphically warn of dangers and color-coding that warns of the degree of the danger should be featured on signs so that employees can take in the warning at a glance.
- Position signs carefully. Signs should be positioned so that they are easily visible and legible from a distance. They must be placed to draw maximum attention to the existing hazards. This means you need to give careful thought to where you locate signs around your facility, and you may need to relocate signs from time to time when you make changes or alterations that affect the visibility or usefulness of existing signs or when the equipment or materials that pose the hazard are moved.
- Identify safety equipment and fire protection equipment. Make sure that safety equipment such as eyewash stations and safety showers are clearly identified with appropriate signs. Also be sure that all fire equipment is identified with proper signs.
- Use tags properly and effectively. As per the safety regulations “tags must be used to prevent accidental injury or illness to the employees who are exposed to hazardous or potentially hazardous conditions, equipment and or operations. Tags shall be used until the identified hazard is eliminated or the hazardous operation is completed. Tags need not to be used where signs, guarding, or other positive means of protection are installed.
Review your signage plan whenever new hazards are introduced. Your facility will not be in compliance with the regulations if you just put up signs and forget about them. You must review your sign and tag program frequently to make sure it is still performing the task it was designed to do. For example, whenever new hazards are introduced into the workplace, new signs need to be put up right away. And when temporary hazards arise, tags need to be attached to warn employees until the hazard no longer exists.