Warning Signs and Tags – Would OSHA Approve Yours?
OSHA says that its specifications for workplace safety signs and tags apply to the design, application, and use of all signs or symbols intended to indicate and define specific hazards.
According to OSHA, all workplace safety signs must:
- Contain sufficient information to be easily understood.
- Be concise, accurate, and easy to read.
- Identify the hazard.
- Explain in a few words how to prevent accidents and injuries.
In addition, all signs should be placed in prominent locations where workers can see them before they face the hazard.
You also need to be sure that your signs don’t themselves constitute a hazard. That’s why OSHA requires safety signs to have rounded or blunt corners and be free of sharp edges, burrs, splinters, or other sharp projections. Also, the ends or heads of bolts or other fastening devices must be located in such a way that they can’t cause injury.
Tags: Signal Words and the Major Message
Tags should be used to warn of hazardous conditions, equipment, or operations when signs, guarding, or other positive means of protection can’t be used.
All required tags must contain a signal word-for example, “Danger,” “Caution,” or “Warning” – and a major message indicating the specific hazardous condition or the instruction to be communicated to the employee.
Danger tags should be used only in major hazard situations where an immediate hazard presents a threat of death or serious injury to employees. Caution tags should be used only in situations where a nonimmediate or potential hazard or unsafe practice presents a lesser threat of employee injury. Warning tags may be used to represent a hazard level between Caution and Danger.
Here are some other OSHA requirements for accident-prevention tags:
- The signal word must be readable at a minimum distance of 5 feet or such greater distance as warranted by the hazard.
- The major message should be presented in either pictographs, written text, or both.
- Both the signal word and the major message must be understandable to all employees who may be exposed to the identified hazard.
- Tags should be affixed as close as safely possible to their respective hazards by a positive means such as string, wire, or adhesive that prevents their loss or unintentional removal.
- Tags should not be removed until such time as the identified hazard is eliminated or the hazardous operation is completed.