In the end of 2013, OSHA incorporated the latest versions of the ANSI Z535 safety sign, tag and color standards into its safety regulations, aligning them with today’s best practices. OSHA’s change allowed for consistency in both sign and label formats using the latest standards. And likewise, it’s now impacting both our products and our workplaces.
The OSHA change means safety signs and tags in workplaces can match the ANSI Z535-formatted product safety labels found on most machinery, component parts, tools, and consumer products. Uniformity between the safety signs and tags in facilities and labels found on products has an important benefit: consistency. When it comes to warnings, consistency leads to familiarity and increased comprehension – important parts of effective safety communication.
One of the main reasons OSHA made its change to add the newer standards-based safety sign and tag standards to their regulations was so that the more advanced ANSI Z535 warnings technology (a technology that manufacturers have been using for product safety labels for decades) could be used. ANSI Z535 signs, tags and labels give viewers a significantly higher level of content. They include symbols, words, well-defined color-coded severity level panels and translated text as needed. To see the difference, just compare the complete content in the best practice Clarion sign, below, with its out-of-date counterpart, above. The old sign is often interpreted by every employee to mean that they are "authorized." But the new sign uses a customized message to give the viewer tangible, useful information that better defines both the need for PPE and prior authorization before entry.
The goal of every safety sign and label system is to provide accurate, concise information that enables viewers to understand risks and take actions to avoid harm. Such systems of risk communication are an essential part of both a product manufacturer’s safety label program and a facility owner’s occupational health and safety management system. Both types of safety communication have, as their common objective, the most valuable goal: to make the world a safer place.
For more insight on moving toward a uniform system of hazard recognition, be sure to read our CEO Geoffrey Peckham’s latest article in In Compliance Magazine, part of a series on current trends in safety symbol design.
Do you have questions about updating or aligning your safety labels or safety signs? Contact us today to discuss your options!