OSHA has a lot to say about safety signs in the workplace. It’s the first critical step when it comes to workplace safety to alert employees and visitors to dangers, warnings and safety instructions that shouldn’t be missed.
Signs and tags are an important part of work area safety. They protect workers, visitors and the general public. If there is a potential hazard, signs must be visible at all times. OSHA has specific regulations pertaining to signs, symbols and tags.
OSHA Standard 1910.145(a)(1) Accident Prevention Signs & Tags states specifications apply to the design, application, and use of signs or symbols (….) that indicate and, insofar as possible, define specific hazards that could harm workers or the public, or both, or to property damage. These specifications are intended to cover all safety signs except those designed for streets, highways, and railroads. These specifications do not apply to plant bulletin boards or to safety posters.
Sign refers to a permanent or temporary notice or placard that provides a warning or safety instructions for industrial workers or members of the public who may be exposed to hazards.
Tag is a kind of sign usually made of card, paper, pasteboard, plastic or other material used to identify a hazardous condition. Tags are usually used temporarily.
All safety signs should be visible and legible. If an active sign is vandalized, becomes rusted, or is coming off the affixed location, it must be replaced immediately. Any sign that is no longer relevant should be covered or removed immediately.
OSHA Standard 1910.145(c)(1) Danger Signs. There shall be no variation in the type of design of signs posted to warn of specific dangers and radiation hazards. All employees shall be instructed that danger signs indicate immediate danger and that special precautions are necessary.
OSHA Standard 1910.145(c)(2) Caution Signs. Caution signs shall be used only to warn against potential hazards or to caution against unsafe practices. All employees shall be instructed that caution signs indicate a possible hazard against which proper precaution should be taken.
OSHA Standard 1910.145(f)(7) Warning Tags. Warning tags may be used to represent a hazard level between "Caution" and "Danger," instead of the required "Caution" tag, provided that they have a signal word of "Warning," an appropriate major message, and otherwise meet the criteria of this section.
More information about the use of safety tags:
OSHA Standard 1910.145(c)(3) Safety Instruction Signs. Safety instruction signs shall be used where there is a need for general instructions and suggestions relative to safety measures.
OSHA Standard 1910.37(b)(2) Each exit must be clearly visible and marked by a sign reading “Exit.”
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