Special Topics in Safety Management

More Signs of Safety


They may not be exciting or high tech, but safety signs save lives. Here are the criteria for an effective signage program.

Did you “sign on” to yesterday’s Advisor? If so, you read part 1 of a 2-part discussion on workplace safety signs. Recent articles on the subject have renewed interest in the value of this simple, low-tech safety solution, and also provided guidelines on how to get the most from the signage you use.


Author Drue Townsend, writing in Occupational Health & Safety, offered four criteria that a successful signage program must meet. Yesterday we reviewed visibility and readability. Today, let’s go on to:



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Noticeability. By this, Townsend refers to those qualities that make a sign stand out. These can include shape and color, and explains how people know a stop or yield sign without even reading it. Interestingly, perpendicular signs are among the most noticeable, one reason they’re used by stores seeking to stand out in a streetscape, and why they can be useful in identifying areas of special hazard.


Legibility. One reason it’s hard to read government regulations as published in the Federal Register is the size and grayness of the type used. In the same way, type size can make important safety signs stand out more, as does spacing between words and individual letters. And, if printed in a second color, retention of the sign’s message improves by 82 percent.


We’d like to add one more guideline to the list above. That’s durability. Signs need to survive the environment in which they’re placed. High heat, humidity, or corrosives can wilt or stain a sign beyond recognition. Don’t use cardboard when sheet metal is called for.


How Will You Know Managers Have Complied?


Of course, even if your signs meet all the key criteria, OSHA still requires that they be properly posted and maintained, either by you or by the supervisors of the areas involved. That leads to the classic compliance issue of how you make sure all regulations are observed when you can’t be everywhere at once to check.



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When we asked our editors that question, they had a two-word answer: Use checklists. A checklist forces the user to think through all the issues involved with any procedure and certify on record that all were addressed. There also was a product recommendation built on this principle—BLR’s Safety Audits Checklists.


This unique, best-selling program provides over 300 separate safety checklists, keyed to three different criteria:



  • OSHA compliance checklists, built right off the government standards in such key areas as hazcom, lockout/tagout, electrical safety, and many more. Have your managers complete these lists, and you’ll know that exactly what inspectors look for, you’ll have seen first.



  • “Plaintiff Attorney” checklists, built around those non-OSHA issues that often attract suits. These include workplace stress and violence, alcohol abuse, and insufficient job hazard analysis.



  • Safety Management checklists, that monitor the administrative procedures you need to have in place for topics such as OSHA 300 Log maintenance, training program scheduling and recordkeeping, and OSHA-required employee notifications.


  • All lists are reproducible. Just make as many copies as needed for all your supervisors and managers, and distribute. What’s more, the entire program is updated annually. You get new or revised checklists automatically as long as you remain a participant. And the cost averages only about $1 a checklist.


    If using this means to ensure a safer, more OSHA-compliant workplace interests you, we will be happy to make Safety Audits Checklists available for a no-cost, no-obligation 30-day evaluation in your own office. Click here and we’ll be pleased to arrange it.

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