Hazards exist in every workplace, and employers have a responsibility to warn their employees of these hazards, say officials at Lab Safety Supply (LSS), North America's leading business-to-business direct marketer of industrial and safety supplies. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is with accident prevention signs.
Two agencies cover accident prevention signs: OSHA and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), an organization which creates voluntary standards through consensus.
OSHA's specifications for accident prevention signs and tags are detailed in its 29 CFR 1910.145.; ANSI's regulations are: Z535.1-2006, Z535.2-2002, Z535.4-2007 and Z535.5-2002.
Which requirements should be followed, OSHA or ANSI? According to LSS officials, where OSHA has specific requirements, they must be followed. In the absence of OSHA requirements, ANSI standards should be followed. Any applicable federal, state or municipal regulations must also be followed.
OSHA and ANSI classify safety signs according to use, note LSS officials, and both organizations have similar definitions for these signs. OSHA's three classifications of signs are:
1. Danger - Indicates an immediate hazardous situation and that special precautions are necessary.
2. Caution - Warns against potential hazards or caution against unsafe practices.
3. Safety instruction signs
- Used where there is a need for general type instructions and for suggestions and reminders that are relative to safety measures.
OSHA and ANSI also have specific requirements for marking physical hazards, LSS officials say. OSHA's designation of what color various equipment and signage should be painted for universal and easy identification and warnings include:
• Red - This denotes danger, stop, firefighting or fire protection equipment.
• Yellow - Indicates the need to take caution and pay attention to potential hazards, for example, a non-moving piece of equipment or areas such as low beams, overhead fixtures, steps and objects that protrude.
• Orange - Warns of dangerous parts of machinery, such as energized or moving parts that could cause injury.
• Blue - Signifies caution is needed before starting up or moving repair equipment.
• Green - Designates first aid equipment or any type of safety equipment, like exit signs and showers.
• Black and White - Usually painted in a wide stripe pattern of alternating black and white, or occasionally, a black and white checker pattern, this marks traffic areas, such as stairways, and gives directional guidance.