Creating an OSHA-Compliant Sign System
Visual communication is critical for a safe workplace. When implementing a safety sign program or updating your current system, you will need to follow OSHA standards and know what your facility needs. A new visual system may seem daunting, but you can get started today!
Assess Your Space
To start implementing or updating a signage system, first look at what you have. Where are the hazards? Are the signs you currently have still relevant? Are there too many signs in one place? Not enough?
Creating a consistent system of signs will help employees and visitors more easily understand what is expected of them.
Choose Sign Content & Materials
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After assessing the current sign situation in your space, make a list or facility map showing which signs you need. You’ll have to select sizes, text, and symbols, that will be included on the sign.
You will also need to choose materials suitable to your work environment. Will signs be placed outside? They may need special coatings to protect from water damage or UV rays. Will indoor signs be subjected to chemicals? Then print your signs on chemical-resistant materials.
In some cases, you will want larger signs that you hang on a wall. Other times, you’ll want smaller, adhesive-backed labels to post on machinery. A sign system has many components, and you’ll want to cover all your bases.
To obtain your signs and labels, you have several options. You can purchase pre-made or custom labels from a third-party vendor. This option lets you select what you need and have it delivered right to your facility. Many facilities require hundreds or even thousands of signs, though, and in these situations printing signs yourself with a label and sign printer may be the most cost-effective option. These printers give you the flexibility to create signs tailored to your workplace. Many also come with templates to help you create compliant signs.
Place the Signs in Appropriate Locations
Once you have the signs you need, it’s time to install them. As a general rule, you should place them so that they will be easy for viewers to see. For hazard signs, you should place them so that they will be read in time for a person to react appropriately before encountering the hazard.
Signs should not be distracting, so try not to clutter an area with too many signs.
Place signs at an appropriate height for your specific applications. For example:
- A fire extinguisher sign could be placed high up on a wall above a fire extinguisher so people can see where it is, even from a distance.
- A general policy sign about who has permission to enter an area could be placed in the middle of a wall or door where people would be most likely to notice it. Putting signs at eye level is often the most logical placement.
- A photoluminescent exit sign should be placed near the floor so people could see it even in a room filled with smoke during a fire.
Maintain Your Sign System
Once you have everything set up, educate people about the new signs and point out any significant changes. Many signs should be self-explanatory but communicating facility- wide changes is usually a good idea.
Your system is complete and ready to use, but that doesn’t mean you can sit back and ignore it. Maintaining clean, high-quality signs is an ongoing task. Put someone in charge of monitoring signs and labels for damage or wear and tear, and whenever the layout of the facility changes or new equipment is brought in, assess whether new signage is necessary.
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