Safety signs will need to be posted in hazardous areas, around dangerous machinery, by emergency evacuation routes, on pipes, and many other areas around the workplace. A facility or safety manager should assess their workplace and identify hazardous areas with a job hazard analysis. The analysis was developed to aid the manager in applying the hierarchy of hazards. Safety signs are considered an administrative control, the second to last step in the hierarchy.
According to the ANSI standards, hazard signs must be placed to alert and inform viewers from a safe viewing distance and must be legible; this means safety signs can be placed on walls, machines, doors, shelves, the floor, etc. It is also important to post signs around areas that can cause varying degrees of injury or damage, areas where first aid or exits are located, and areas that require a mandatory action regarding safety.
OSHA recommends a variety of hazards to consider when completing a job hazard analysis including chemical, physical, biological, and ergonomic hazards and risks. Some of these include:
- Sources of motion, i.e machinery or processes where any movement of tools or elements of a machine could exist, or movement of personnel that could result in a collision with stationary objects.
- Sources of high temperatures that could result in burns, eye injury or ignition of protective equipment.
- Types of chemical exposures.
- Sources of falling objects or potential for dropping objects.
Some best practices when it comes to safety signs include:
- Signs should not fade into the background. Instead, colorful ANSI-approved signs should be used.
- Include as much information as you can that will aid the worker in making better, safer decisions.
- If a workplace has employees who speak other languages than English, safety symbols and signs in other languages should be used.
- Maintain signs so they will last for years.
- Safety signs should be posted in visible, easy-to-see areas, and ensure they can be seen at eye level.