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Components of OSHA Compliant Signs

October 19, 2018

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) oversees workplace safety regulations in the United States and partners with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop safety standards. OSHA compliant signs help workplaces clarify regulations to ensure the safety of workers.

Safety Sign Requirements

OSHA and ANSI work together to develop safety sign specifications. Requirements for accident prevention signs and safety tags are explained in OSHA’s 29 Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) 1910.145. These specifications are required for all indoor safety signs, except for plant bulletin boards or safety posters. ANSI and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) collaborate on voluntary consensus standards for safety sign colors.

The three classifications of signs determined by OSHA are danger signs that alert people of immediate danger, caution signs that warn of unsafe conditions, and safety instruction signs that provide general safety suggestions.

OSHA vs ANSI Requirements

Employers must follow specific OSHA requirements and ANSI standards, along with any federal, state or local laws. OSHA does not have requirements for sign materials. New sign and tag formats appeared after OSHA endorsed ANSI/NEMA Z535 standards in its regulations. These new components include:

  • Safety alert symbol
  • Danger: indicates potential personal injury in extreme situations
  • Warning: hazardous or potentially deadly conditions
  • Caution: could lead to minor or moderate injury
  • Notice: important information that does not present a safety hazard

OSHA also sets standards for sign symbols and text messages. Symbols must be easy to understand, as they can be used to overcome language barriers. Sign text must be clear and concise. When choosing OSHA compliant signs, employers can select from old or new ANSI standards.

Meeting Specific Requirements

ANSI standards determine lettering size, sign placement, and color coding. All signage lettering must be large enough that a person with normal vision can read it. For example, for a person with normal vision to read a sign from a distance of 100 feet, the lettering must be a minimum of 4 inches in height.

Users must be able to read sign messages at a safe distance from an associated hazard so that they have time to avoid it. Signs designed to alert users to hazards must not be placed on or adjacent to moveable objects such as doors or windows. They must also not obscure fire safety signs and equipment.

Another requirement is illumination. Safety signs must be coated with retro-reflective material so that they are visible at night. If a sign has faded, it may require additional illumination. In some cases, emergency lighting may be needed.

Safety Color Codes

Both OSHA and ANSI have consistent safety color codes. Red means danger or stop. Orange is used for warning signs, while yellow means caution. Green is associated with safety, and used on signs indicating resources such as first aid equipment. Blue is used on signs containing useful information. Signs with magenta or purple messages on a yellow background indicate the presence of radiation.

Danger signs must use red, black, and white. Caution signs must use yellow backgrounds and feature black panels with yellow letters. OSHA compliant signs that provide safety instructions must have a white background and a green panel with white letters, while black letters are used over white backgrounds.

Every employer that runs a physical workplace has a responsibility to make their premises safe for employees and all others who visit the property. For more information about OSHA compliant signs, call Zumar at their Arizona, California or Washington location.

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