OSHA Compliance & Safety
Understanding the importance of safety signs is a positive step in the effort to eliminate injuries and fatalities in the workplace. However, knowing is half the battle. Certain criteria need to be met by employers to ensure safety within the workplace. Employers are not alone in this effort. Different organizations have long been established to guide employers through understanding how to use safety signs properly and effectively.
The employer’s responsibility, as defined in Occupational Safety and Health Act of 19702, is to provide a safe and healthy workplace for their employees.
To help employers, OSHA’s role in workplace safety is “to promote the safety and health of America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health.” Complying with OSHA standards for worker safety should be a major priority for any organization. Using effective safety and compliance signs in accordance with OSHA standards not only helps create a safe workplace, it has the added benefit of improving morale by announcing to your employees that you are concerned for their safety. And when workers are safe, organizations are more successful.
Other Organizations Involved In Standardization
Along with OSHA, three additional organizations are involved in safety sign standardization and compliance: the International Standards Organization (ISO) (external link), the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) (external link), and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) (external link).
Each organization has developed safety standards with required compliance as a part of its areas of responsibility. For example, the OSHA code states that safety compliance signs must be used, and the ANSI Z535 safety sign standards specify formats, colors, and symbols for safety signs. The ANSI standard is the most commonly used standard for compliance sign design. It applies to signs and labels used on machinery, products and buildings. It applies in most educational institutions, manufacturing plants, warehouses and other types of facilities throughout the U.S. and the world.
Companies which adhere to such standards and post compliance signs protect employees from workplace hazards. In addition, by complying with established standards, organizations and their employees are in a better position to defend themselves should there be liability litigation. Meeting standards may even prevent litigation altogether. Additional advantages of adhering to safety sign standards include the following: elimination of confusion, quicker understanding of the message, and it gives workers the ability to move from one facility to another and immediately understand signage in their new location. As a result, workers are less likely to get into hazardous situations.