Contents of the Signage for Safety & OSHA Compliance Webinar:
- The Business Case for Safety
- Costs: Direct and Indirect
- Investments Pay Off
- Ways to Improve: VPP and SHARP
- The Role of Signage
- The Mandate for Safety Signs
- Complete OSH Programs
- Attention, Recognition, Understanding
- Keys to effective safety signage
- OSHA and ANSI
- Headers and Signal Words
- Sign Placement
- Creating Your Own Signs
Excerpt from the Signage for Safety & OSHA Compliance Webinar transcript:
OSHA and ANSI
Decades ago, OSHA published their first rule for consistent safety signage in 1910.145. Originally, the rule referred to an existing industry standard called ANSI Z53, which had been published in 1967. In the decades since then, that industry standard has been revised many times: the current version is ANSI/NEMA Z535, most recently updated in 2017.
OSHA gives employers the option to follow the original rules as written, or to switch to a newer edition of a referenced standard (as long as the new standard provides equal or better protection for workers). The current ANSI/NEMA standard reflects the most up-to-date advice from experts in visual communication and safety, so it’s best for most facilities to use the newest standard for effective signs. Avoid using both styles in the same facility, because inconsistent signage can cause confusion — going against the purpose of safety signs in the first place.
The ANSI/NEMA Z535 sign format uses two sections to provide information: a boldly-colored header along the top of the sign, and a larger message panel with detailed information.
Headers and Signal Words
The bold header at the top of a sign gets the reader’s attention, and quickly conveys how urgent the sign’s message is, starting the process of recognition. Each header uses a standardized color and a signal word. There are five headers:
A green header with the word “Safety” is for general safety instructions or information, or to identify a location where safety equipment can be found. While they don’t talk about hazards, these signs may be helpful for people who are responding to an accident, or trying to follow established safety procedures. The exact text on this header may change: a common example is to mark eyewash stations, where the header might read “Eye Wash” instead of “Safety.”
A blue header with the word “Notice” is for rules, directions, or information where the message is important, but doesn’t involve a risk of personal injury. These signs are often used for security, sanitation, or legal notices. A common example is a “No Food or Drinks Beyond This Point” sign.
A yellow header with the word “Caution” and this Safety Alert Symbol indicates a situation where workers need to be careful for their own protection; ignoring this message could lead to minor or moderate injuries. These signs are often used to remind workers about a requirement for PPE, such as hearing protection, in a given work area.
An orange header with the word “Warning” and the Safety Alert Symbol is for more severe hazards, where there is a risk of serious injury or even death. Many kinds of industrial equipment featuring pinch points, cutting tools, or high pressures will need these kinds of signs.
A red header with the word “Danger” and the Safety Alert Symbol is for the most extreme hazards in a facility, where there is an immediate threat of death or serious injury. A common example of this type of sign is “Danger: Keep out. High voltage.”
To learn about the role of signage in an overall safety program and the keys to creating effective and standardized OSHA-style safety signs, watch the full webinar on demand now!