Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Staying Safe-The Importance of Effective Safety Signage and Labeling: Some Things That We Take for Granted Because We See Them So Frequently-Signs and Labels, for Example-Have a Big Impact on Workplace Safety

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Staying Safe-The Importance of Effective Safety Signage and Labeling: Some Things That We Take for Granted Because We See Them So Frequently-Signs and Labels, for Example-Have a Big Impact on Workplace Safety

Article excerpt

Imagine a plant containing radioactive hazardous materials with no warnings posted and nothing identified.

A key contributor to a safe work environment is an informed work force. Proper facility identification through the use of effective signage and labeling places important information exactly where it's needed. This immediately provides all employees and visitors with the information they need to minimize accidents and injury, and contributes to safe egress in case of an emergency.

When safety procedures are readily available, worker-initiated accidents are reduced. If an accident does occur, the extent of loss can be minimized when workers are well-trained in accident response procedures. For example, clearly marked escape routes help evacuate all workers from a hazardous area faster and more efficiently, reducing the risk of injury. Clear facility identification should be an integral part of your safety program.

Where to Begin

To start assessing your facility's needs, review any safety and productivity initiatives (5S, Six Sigma, Kaizen) already underway or under consideration. Determine how clear facility marking can eliminate confusion, cut wasteful search time and reduce operator errors.

Code compliance is critical in any plant environment. OSHA regulations provide great detail about clear identification of potential hazards, and mandate procedures and practices to control the hazards. A good working knowledge of OSHA requirements that apply to your plant is critical to determining its identification needs.

Individual industries also have their own safety standards--some that are highly formalized, others that are practices generally acknowledged in that industry. Not meeting those standards can seriously increase the possibility of accidents.

Options for Signs

Whether you're considering implementing an entire plant identification program in-house or need to produce signage on an as-needed basis, you have several options. One is to order standard or custom-designed signs. Another is to order a label maker or software to create your own signs.

In some cases, a sign is needed immediately. So, for many facilities, a high-quality industrial label maker is a good investment. When an immediate need arises, you have the capability to produce a sign that communicates important information to your work force.

Whatever type of signs you use, remember that signage that lacks consistency and clarity can be confusing to your work force and reduces the effectiveness of the messages you are communicating.

If you decide to create your own signs and you are in an industrial environment, be sure to choose a label maker designed for industrial use. Office printers generally are not equipped with features that you need and want to produce code-compliant signage and labels, and they are not designed to withstand harsher environments. In choosing a label maker, consider ease of use, size and color flexibility and the quality and availability of materials.

Industrial label and sign makers range in size from small, hand-held units to bench-top printers. …

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