Society has come a long way in terms of workplace safety. 100 years ago, the idea of workplace safety was to lock the doors so workers couldn’t leave early — a decision which resulted in thousands of deaths when fires broke out. Thank goodness we’ve managed some drastic safety improvements since those days! Now, it can almost feel like we’re overprotective when it comes to creating safe work environments, but it’s better to be safe than to invite disaster. That’s where safety groups like the Occupational Safety and Hazard Administration (OSHA) come into play. There are regulations in place regarding workplace safety, to ensure each business is taking the necessary steps to minimize injuries and accidents as much as possible. A big part of that is displaying the appropriate signage. Is your business in compliance?
OSHA Signage Requirements
That “wet floor” sign may seem unnecessary when you can see water glistening on the floor. However, if there isn’t a warning glare from a window or the overhead lights, some unsuspecting person could easily slip and injure themselves. Not only would that mean an injured employee (or client), but it could also lead to an expensive lawsuit. Generally, it’s an all-around awful situation for everyone involved and one that should be avoided when possible. So, while that “wet floor” sign may feel like a nuisance, it’s providing a safeguard against a much worse scenario.
This, in a nutshell, is why OSHA requires safety signage. Some industries will require more signage than others, depending on the workplace hazards, but just about every business is required to post some level of safety signage. The OSHA website goes into the specifics of safety sign requirements for specific industries. However, there are a few general concepts that every business should keep in mind.
One of the key ideas behind any safety sign is to warn of potential hazards quickly, clearly, and concisely. In order to be OSHA compliant, you’ll need to make sure your signs follow the appropriate hazard classifications, including colors and terminology. The three primary severities for safety signs are danger, warning, and caution. Caution is the mildest of the three, used to denote hazards that could cause minor to moderate injuries, and are usually labeled in yellow — which is why a “wet floor” sign is always yellow. Warning is the next level up, and denotes hazards that could result in severe injury or death, but where the risk isn’t high enough to warrant a danger sign. Warning signs have an orange header or background. Danger, as you may have assumed, are the most dangerous hazards. Danger signs denote hazards that are likely to cause death or serious injury if the hazard isn’t avoided. These signs are bright red to signify the importance of being aware of the hazard.
Aside from those, there are also categories of signs for general safety, notices, admittance, fire safety, and non-hazards (including restroom signs). These signs are primarily green or blue, with the exception of fire safety signs, which should some in danger red.
OSHA also has guidelines for when and where safety signs need to be posted. Generally speaking, safety signs should be placed in a way that allows workers to see them from a safe distance in order to help avoid illness or injury. In conjunction with that, safety signs should be clearly visible and not cause a hazard themselves — which is why “wet floor” signs should be placed visibly in the middle of a wet area, rather than off to one side or obscured by something. For more specific information on sign placement requirements, check with the OSHA website.
As the owner or manager of a business, it will typically fall to you to ensure safety requirements are met. If you’re looking for durable, fade-resistant safety signage for your business, TerraSlate can help. Our waterproof paper, posters, and adhesives help you create safety signs and decals that will last. Our products are colorfast, rip-proof, and work with standard laser printers and copy machines. We help you make safety signs so you can be OSHA compliant and operate a safe workplace — without paying an arm and a leg. Connect with the TerraSlate team to learn more about our products or shop online to get started.