OSHA Update to Consensus Standards for Safety Signage

By Erin Earley | 16th Apr 2013

Here's an exciting news update to share when it comes to improving workplace safety: the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed a consensus standard update to rules on signage, an issue championed here at Clarion Safety 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, has advocated for an update to OSHA's consensus standards to better align with the latest advances in safety sign technology. Over the last four years, together with the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, he has lobbied OSHA to recognize that the American National Standards Institute's ANSI Z535 series of standards for safety colors, signs and tags provide an equal or greater level of safety as compared to the 1967-68 USASI Z53 and Z35 standards that are presently referenced in OSHAs regulations.

An update to the consensus standards is now currently in a "proposed rule stage", with publication of a Direct Final Rule expected later this Spring.

According to OSHA, the goal of the safety sign rulemaking update is to improve workplace safety and health by allowing employers to use the latest consensus safety sign standards (ANSI Z535) in order to take advantage of the safety communication benefits that the newer standards represent. Prior to this rule change taking effect, 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 due to the fact that the ANSI Z535 standards are the current version of the document that was used as the basis for OSHA's safety sign regulations. Called a "de minimus situation", this provision provides little incentive for employers to adopt the latest industry best practices with regards to safety signs, colors and tags. The new rule that incorporates ANSI Z535 safety sign, color and tag references into OSHA standards will eliminate this approach, allowing employers to use the ANSI Z535 standards without the possibility of a citation.

To learn more about this new change, its timing, and how it will affect workplace safety, read our full news. Clarion also has a video available, "ANSI Standards in Safety Signs and Labels", to help safety advocates learn more about the ANSI standards and current best practices in product safety labeling and facility sign systems.