Special Topics in Safety Management

New Safety Signage Requirements Q & A

As the revised safety signage rules go into effect, you may have questions about how the changes will affect your workplace. Here are some Fads that can help.

Today’s Q & A is presented courtesy of Clarion Safety Systems, LLC, the leading designer and manufacturer of visual safety solutions that help customers in more than 180 industries worldwide to make their products and premises safer. Clarion offers a full range of standard and custom products including machinery safety labels, environmental and facility safety signs, pipe and valve identification markings, lockout/tag out products, and safety-grade photoluminescent egress path-marking escape systems.

Q. How does this change effect workplace safety signage?

A. Most employers currently use signs that comply with the older 1967-1968 standards. Because OSHA aimed to avoid creating an economic burden to employers, the older 1967-1968 standards will continue to be referenced in OSHA’s regulations, allowing the older signage to continue to be used. However, the corresponding ANSI Z535-2011 reference will be placed next to the older reference. For instance, whenever the OSHA standards reference the 1968 USASI Z35.1 Standard for Accident Prevention Signs, the 2011 ANSI Z535.2 Standard for Environmental and Facility Safety Signs will also be referenced. In effect, this will allow employers to use safety signs that comply with either the old or the new standards.

Prior to this rule change, employers using the newer ANSI Z535 standards for their signage would run the risk of being cited for violating OSHA standards. The outcome of this violation would not result in a fine because the ANSI Z535 standards are the current version of the document that was used as the basis for OSHA’s 1971 safety sign regulations. Called a “de minimus situation,” this provision provided little incentive for employers to adopt the latest industry best practices with regards to safety signs, colors and tags.

The proposed new rule that incorporates ANSI Z535 safety sign, color and tag references into OSHA standards eliminates this problem, allowing employers to use the ANSI Z535 standards without the possibility of a citation.


OSHA has adopted new standards for workplace safety signs. Learn about what’s changed and why with a FREE Best Practices Report from BLR and Clarion Safety Systems. Find out how to get your copy. Click here.


Q. If my organization is not obligated by OSHA to use the latest version of the ANSI standards, why is it important to update our facility signage?

A. With OSHA’s regulatory update, organizations can now utilize the advances in warnings technology established in the ANSI Z535 standards for facility safety signs and tags—and be in compliance with OSHA. This is an opportunity for organizations to rethink and elevate visual safety communication in the workplace.

Most safety signs and tags in use today are based on antiquated, 70-year-old designs that lack the warnings technology incorporated into modern safety sign standards. They also fail to meet the demands of an increasingly global workforce with multiple language needs.

The 2011 ANSI Z535 standards have many safety communication benefits as compared with older versions. These standards incorporate the past 70+ years of advances that have taken place in safety sign technology. As such, their use in your workplace will be a significant step forward in improving safety and better protecting workers of all backgrounds.

Q. What does this change mean for the big picture of visual safety communication?

A. The OSHA update means that, over time, as employers adopt the newer ANSI Z535 best practice safety tag and sign formats, the U.S. will increasingly have a single, national uniform system of hazard recognition; safety signs installed in facilities and public areas, temporary safety tags placed on equipment, and safety labels placed on products will all be designed using the same formatting principles. The outcome of such consistency is more effective communication. That, in turn, should help achieve the objective of fewer accidents and more lives saved from tragedy.


Prepare your workplace to comply with new consensus standards for safety signage with a FREE Best Practices Report. Find out more.


Are You Ready for the New Standards for Safety Signs?

Find out what you need to know about the new workplace safety signage standards with the FREE Best Practice Report New OSHA National Consensus Standards for Signage. You’ll learn about:

  • Which new consensus standards apply
  • Why the changes are considered necessary
  • The expected impact of the new requirements on workplace safety

This informative report has been prepared by BLR and is sponsored by Clarion Safety Systems, LLC, and it’s absolutely FREE. Clarion is the leading designer and manufacturer of visual safety solutions that help customers in more than 180 industries worldwide to make their products and premises safer. Clarion offers a full range of standard and custom products including machinery safety labels, environmental and facility safety signs, pipe and valve identification markings, lockout/tagout products, and safety-grade photoluminescent egress path-marking escape systems.

Clarion’s CEO, Geoffrey Peckham, who also serves as chair of the ANSI Z535 Committee for Safety Signs and Colors and chair and delegation head for ANSI to the ISO standards pertaining to safety signs, played a key role in the effort to update OSHA’s consensus standards to better align them with the latest advances in safety sign technology.

To access your FREE copy of New OSHA National Consensus Standards for Signage click here.