Communication is essential in developing a safe work environment, which can be accomplished by the usage of safety signs. Safety signs, tags, and labels provide employees with information, procedures, and instructions to prevent accidents, near misses and injuries. Signs direct workers to the location of emergency equipment and escape routes and support company policies and training programs. Signs and labels must be easy to read, communicate warnings, and comply with OSHA and ANSI standards.

Discussion Points:
• What is the importance of safety signs in a workplace?
• What regulations apply to safety signs?
• When must safety signs be used?
• When must safety signs be removed or replaced?
• What is the leading cause of OSHA inspection violations?

The leading cause of OSHA inspection violations is failure to properly post signage designating hazards likely to cause serious injury or death. Entrances to work areas should have signs posted specifying safety requirements. Machines and equipment requiring specific personal protection should be posted with warning signs, tags, and labels.

OSHA and ANSI have established guidelines on the design and applications of safety signage. OSHA Standard 29 CFR 1910.145 offers guidance for the placement of safety signs, tags, and labels. The standard states that signs must be placed “as close as safely possible” to the potential hazard. It outlines environmental safety controls, types of signs, and compliant applications. ANSI Z535 provides specifications on sign design elements, including standardized alert pictograms, signal words, colors, lettering size, and style. The proper use of safety signs is essential for creating an OSHA-compliant industrial work environment. The placement of signs, tags, and labels should follow OSHA and ANSI regulations and standards. The message, signs and labels deliver, must resonate with workers; if there is a potential hazard, safety signs must be visible at all times. Damaged signs or signs that are no longer relevant should be removed immediately. Employers who implement a safety program that includes safety signs, tags, and labels ensure a safe workplace for their employees by reducing the number of accidents and injuries, preventing property damage, increasing efficiency, promoting safety, and avoiding OSHA violations and fines.

As always, be safe out there!