Classification of signs according to hazard severity
The pandemic has hit us with a severe sense of uncertainty. Walking around a business’ premises or performing a task can be very dangerous if you don’t take the right precautions while doing it. It is proven that safety training can improve people’s safety, but it’s also been proven that employees and customers tend to forget certain signs and their respective meanings. Here is a little reminder to help you reduce the possibility of an unfortunate accident: Signs that announce hazards have similar words—danger, warning, caution, and notice. Signs not associated with hazards do not have any of those signal words.
- Danger – The word danger signals an emanate hazard that may lead to severe injury or death if the area is not vacated. The top header is the triangle hazard symbol, which is an equilateral triangle enclosing an exclamation point. This symbol is followed by the signal word “DANGER,” written in white and red.
- Caution - The word caution signals the presence of a hazard that may inflict minor or moderate injuries. “CAUTION” is printed black on a yellow background. The hazard symbol is on most caution signs. The “Wet Floor” signs are an excellent example of caution signs.
- Notice - When you see “NOTICE” printed in white on a blue background, it alerts you to the correct location. The hazard triangle symbol is typically not on notice signs. Notice signs indicate no-smoking areas. Notice signs also announce smoking areas.
- Fire safety sign – Fire safety signs direct you to the location of firefighting equipment. Red and white are generally the standard colors. Fire safety signs also do not have the hazard triangle symbol.
- General safety sign – General safety signs guide you to the location of tools or equipment needed for first aid. This equipment may be a first-aid kit, housekeeping material, emergency eyewash fountains, etc. Hazard signal words are not necessary for general safety signs. Available safety signs can also alert people to the presence of an AED. An AED is used for monitoring the heart. It can also give a shock to a person who is having a heart attack. Businesses in malls and in any other area where many people congregate may have these devices, which CPR-trained individuals can use.
- Non-hazard signs – non-hazard signs convey information about a facility’s safe areas. The restroom sign is an example of a non-hazard sign.
Classification of signs according to the nature of the hazard
Included here are hazards symbolized by universally recognized pictograms.
- Biological hazard – These signs have printed on them “BIOHAZARD” or “BIOLOGICAL HAZARD,” and they are black or orange. The hazard triangle symbol should signal people that the BIOHAZARD or BIOLOGICAL may cause them severe illness or death.
- Radiation hazard – These hazard signs consist of the black trefoil symbol and may have hazard signal words to indicate the type and amount of radiation. When a person is exposed to a large amount of radiation, it may lead to organ damage and cancer. Radiation hazard signs are typically found in hospitals’ radiology, nuclear power plants, and special laboratories.
- Electrical hazard – These hazard signs have a lightning bolt on them. These are typically found on electrified fences and equipment.
- Flammable – These signs have a picture of a flame on them. They are typically found chemical agents that quickly catch fire when heated or ignited.
- Explosive – These signs release large destructive forces when disturbed. They explode!! Some explosives combust, and others set off by high-pressure buildup but do not create fires. A picture of an exploding bomb is typically the picture of explosives.
- Toxic – These signs indicate the presence of poisonous materials and have a picture of the skull and crossbones. PPE is required to handle all types of chemicals. Personal respirators, goggles, and gloves are necessary for volatile substances that release toxic fumes into the air.
- Other hazards not included here are fall hazards, sharp edges, dangerous animals, etc.
- Hot surface caution – These labels are typically on equipment that gets hot and burns the skin, such as baking ovens or hospital autoclaves.
Classification of signs according to location or object where the label is attached
- Admittance - Admittance signs give caution about the potential presence of hazards in a restricted area. Besides the specific hazard words, they could also warn “Keep away,” “Restricted area,” “Authorized personnel only,” etc.
- Equipment - These labels could use a signal word when they pose a hazard. Most construction locations and manufacturing/assembly plants post a forklift safety sign, a hazardous waste label, crushing hazard label, etc.
- Hair salon - may use an electrical safety label for their devices. A restaurant may have a warning sign for stove/oven-hot surfaces and cutting and slicing machines.
- School equipment may need to post proof of preventive maintenance. These stickers contain general information, so the hazard symbol or a signal word are not required. They also serve as a notification that the equipment is still okay to use.
- Chemicals - Harmful substances may be flammable, corrosive, cancer-causing, explosive, toxic when ingested, etc. As such, they should be appropriately carefully handled and labeled correctly. OSHA has a list of information required for hazard stickers on chemicals, which must have the following information:
Manufacturer’s name, the address, and phone number; the Product identifiers, with chemical name, item #; a signal word, which is either “DANGER” or “WARNING”; Hazard statements, which describe the nature and severity of the potential hazard; Pictograms, which symbolize the hazard it poses; Precautionary statements, which explain measures that can minimize the danger or mitigate its consequences when it occurs.