Regulations and Sign Compliance
As explained in previous articles, people tend to forget safety training and sign compliance.There are two sets of standards coming from two different entities (OSHA and ANSI). These two entities often work together, making it difficult to determine how to create compliant safety signs for your facility.
- Who or what is OSHA: OSHA stands for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration?
OSHA is an institution of the United States government which sets forth and enforces standards for health and safety in the American workplace. OSHA enforces standards with targeted inspection programs and responds to work-related safety complaints, catastrophes, and fatalities.
- Who or what is ANSI: ANSI stands for the American National Standards Institute?
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is not a government institution but a non-profit organization for over 100 years. ANSI has established a voluntary consensus for standards to protect the American consumer, workers, and environment as an institution.
ANSI does not have the authority to develop standards or enforce them. They are instead accrediting the measures that organizations have created. The ANSI accreditation fosters consensus among
professionals in the private and public sector by using due process procedures to ensure equitable, fair treatment of the standards evaluated.
- Why doesn’t OSHA simplify the situation and mandate the ANSI standards?
OSHA must balance safety and practicality to ensure ANSI safety sign standards put into practice are correct. ANSI considers safety alone when accrediting standards for safety signage.
It’s important to note that since the COCID-10 Pandemic, the CDC has relevance in masks, hygiene, social distancing when it comes to disease spread, risk, and contamination. You can find additional information at the CDC Website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html
How and Where Signage Can be Used Across Industries
It’s easy to overlook the signs in the workplace, but their role is critical: If you take a close look at the safety signs in your establishment, you might discover that you need to add some signs or update those that are already posted.
There are a few industries that might benefit from a second look.
- Construction sites - It’s construction season, and signage is a crucial element to any job site.
- Warehouses and manufacturing - The big thing to consider in warehouses and manufacturing facilities is heavy machinery.
- Health care facilities - Hospitals are filled with areas that could harm patients or people if exposed to the hazards. This requires a lot of signage.
- Hotels and restaurants – The consumer might not be thinking about safety when they visit a hotel, but the hotel operators should be placing signage to communicate hazards to guests.
- All workplaces - As we work through a pandemic environment, safety signage can apply to any business. Many organizations have created signs for physical distancing, aisle traffic directions, masking, and other health-related reminders.
Ways to Prevent the Spread of Illness or Contamination via Contact
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the need to communicate to consumers and workers critical hygiene and safety protocol. There has been innovative signage, such as floor and wall signs, customized to spread the health and safety message.
Employers need to have a plan to communicate the hazards which exist in the workplace. Under OSHA regulations, employers shoulder the duty to provide a safe working environment for the employees. To succeed in delivering a hazard-free environment, employers need to communicate a plan. This plan needs to address the hazards in the workplace and note what signage and labels are necessary to communicate dangers to the workers. The key to any program is it needs to address the use of safety signs and labels. Workers need to be able to know about their workplace. The plan should include social distancing guidelines during a pandemic, warning signs for hazards, signs such as slips and falls, and labels to communicate the risks of workplace chemicals and cleaners.
Employers can use safety signs to stop Coronavirus transmission in their place of business.
- Wear a mask sign – in businesses where it may be appropriate
- Social Distance decals, signs, posters, or floor markers
- Hand sanitizing stations, ideally automated/touchless to minimize contact and contamination
- Hand hygiene reminders – washing hands, how to do it properly, wash after touching face/eyes/mouth, etc.
- Proper disposal of contaminated items – e.g., PPE, facial issues, etc.
- Frequent sanitization of surfaces with disinfectant wipes, especially in high traffic areas or where heavy contact might occur. (For example, reception desks, chairs in waiting areas, elevator buttons, door handles, pens/pencils, etc.)
Leverage Signage for Maximum Protection
- Keep Signs Relevant and Current
- Optimize Sign Visibility Through Strategic Placement
- Replace Missing or Damaged Signs
- Ensure Workers Understand Signage and Meanings
- Training Workers in Safety Protocols in Case of Accidents
Workers need to be trained to understand what the different signs mean, how to recognize them, how they impact them, and how to display them to keep everyone safe and healthy.