Convey important information to workers, visitors, and passers-by about safety concerns, instructional guidance, or environmental conditions. Alert and inform through words, colors, and tactile data. ANSI last updated the Z535 safety sign standard in 2011; employers should use the latest standard when printing new labels. Replacing old ANSI signs is voluntary for now, but employers should consider updating to minimize confusion. 29 CFR 1910.145 - OSHA’s guideline for signs and tags that identify hazards, outlines design requirements and specifies when safety signs must be used.
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These design elements are expanded upon in the ANSI Z535 standard, which utilizes alert symbols and pictograms to communicate hazards.
Three of the most common types of signs in a workplace are danger, warning, and caution. Danger signs signal the most serious hazards, where special precautions must be taken. The “DANGER” signal word is printed in white letters on a red background and is preceded by the safety alert symbol, which looks like an exclamation point inside a triangle. This type of sign indicates that death or serious injury is almost certain to occur if the hazard is not avoided. Warning signs describe a hazard that may result in death or serious injury, but where the overall risk is not severe enough to need a danger sign. A safety alert symbol precedes the “WARNING” signal word, which is printed in black on an orange background. The hazards described on a caution sign may result in minor or moderate injuries if not avoided. These typically caution against unsafe practices. On caution signs, the “CAUTION” signal word is printed in black on a yellow background header and is preceded by the safety alert symbol.
Notify your workers, even if it seems too precautious, better safe than sorry. Communication and proper reminders are very important in a functioning, safe workplace.