Dan has compiled the 10 most common signage and labeling questions asked about keeping workers safe and avoiding fines. These questions are from a wide range of industries. The answers are a good starting resource for any professional concerned about facility safety.
The size of signs. The colors of signs. OSHA compliance. NFPA vs. GHS. Lockout/tagout. Arc flash labeling. Confined space labeling. It’s all here.
Handwritten vs. printed labels, what is required? The answer is here too. Facility safety, all part of The Safety Brief.
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Dan Clark: Hello friends, I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief. This is where we talk about health and safety hazards in today’s demanding industrial and construction worksites.
Oh, here’s a good one. “What are the top 10 questions asked by safety managers?” Oh, let’s get right to it. In no particular order:
1. “Is labeling and/or signage necessary?” Well, many signs—exit signs, fire extinguisher signs—are required by law, of course. But other signage helps keep a location safe.
2. “How much information do arc flash labels need to have?” The law requires that labels indicate that “Hey, there’s an arc flash hazard here,” as well as the need for personal protective equipment in that area. An additional label with info about the severity, how bad this hazard is, is also a good idea.
3. “How often should we check the standards?” Quarterly. OSHA makes occasional updates, and if you’re following safety news websites, that can help you keep up-to-date with all the requirements.
4. “How big do signs need to be?” While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, in general, a hazard sign needs to be big enough that anybody impacted by the hazard can see it. For example, if there’s a risk of something falling, anyone in danger of having that fall on them will need to be a little read the sign. As a side note, if the signs have text, they’ll probably need to be bigger. Signs with just an image, like an international symbol, can be smaller since they’re easier to understand.
6. “Do signs need a lot of color, or are two colors okay?” Well, most safety signs and labels only have two colors. In some cases additional colors can actually make a sign more confusing and harder to read. Now, if a sign requires more than two colors, try investing in a label maker so you can make signs yourself and save a bunch of money.
7. “Is NFPA going away? Is it being replaced by GHS?” No, the National Fire Protection Association isn’t going away anytime soon, and the GHS does not replace these standards anyway. Now, the GHS is the Globally Harmonized System—it’s the new international labeling scheme—but it barely overlaps with NFPA. So workplaces need to follow both sets of standards.
8. “Is it true that only the first shipment of a material needs to have a material safety data sheet—the MSDS—or do all shipments need their own sheets?” Well, an MSDS is only required for the first shipment, but if contents of the shipment later change, then a new one is then needed. When in doubt, just include a sheet anyway.
9. “What is the standard OSHA format for lockout/tagout?” Answer: The power source must be removed when somebody’s working on hazardous equipment. This usually involves an energy isolating device. Your company must have a lockout/tagout standard in place to be OSHA compliant.
10. And this is my favorite. “Can labels be handwritten or do they need to be printed?” The answer to this is that labels required by OSHA have to follow specific formatting, so they cannot be handwritten. Other nonessential labels can be written by hand, though printing is usually more effective because “who can read the bosses handwriting?” Hmm.
That’s it for this episode. Come back for more tips and techniques on how to stay safety compliant in today’s ever-changing landscape of safety requirements. I’m Dan Clark of The Safety Brief, sponsored by Creative Safety Supply. See the website at creativesafetysupply.com