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Understanding Safety Signs

Signs are used to prevent accidents. They are common in the work area, along the roadside, and in public buildings. OSHA has some specific requirements for signs. The requirements are in place to make sure hazard warnings are easy to recognize and don`t vary from workplace to workplace. This Safety First Topic takes a look at different types of signs; what they mean, and how they should be used.

OSHA defines signs as "the warnings of hazard, temporarily or permanently affixed or placed, at locations where hazards exist." Danger signs must only be used where an immediate hazard exists. Their appearance is specified by OSHA. These signs are red, black (or contrasting color), and white with room for words or symbols to describe the danger. Danger signs are common in areas where high voltages exist and where automatically-starting equipment is in use. You may be aware of other hazards which warrant the use of a danger sign.

Warning signs are orange with black (or a contrasting color) lettering or symbols. They are used to warn against hazards which aren`t quite as serious as those requiring a danger sign-but are more serious than those requiring a caution sign. Warning signs may alert us to forklift traffic or similar hazards.

Caution signs must be used only to warn against potential hazards or to caution against unsafe work practices. Caution signs are predominately yellow with a black (or contrasting color) panel at the top of the sign. The word "caution," written in yellow appears on the panel. The lower part of the sign is used for additional wording which must be written in black (or a contrasting color). Caution signs warn of numerous hazards-everything from slippery floors to reminding us to wear safety glasses. Even traffic signals take a cue from the yellow caution sign as they warn us to be careful on the road.

Special signs are used just for biological hazards and radiation hazards. The biological hazard (biohazard) sign is fluorescent orange or orange-red with letters or symbols in a contrasting color. The biohazard sign alerts us to the presence or potential presence of blood or other biological hazards. Radiation hazards are identified with a sign bearing the familiar three-bladed radiation symbol in black or magenta or red on a yellow background.

Safety instruction signs are used to provide information about safety. They are not used to warn against specific hazards. These green and white signs remind you to report accidents, help locate first-aid equipment, and direct you along an evacuation route.

Though signs are never a substitute for good safety procedures and training, they are useful to remind us of hazards and ways we can protect against them. Always take seriously the information on a sign-whether in the workplace or on the road. Understanding signs and the hazards they warn us about can help prevent injuries and save lives.

  Other Articles:  
  Our Safety Program  
  Welcome to the Simplex Safety First Program. These Safety First Topics are free to be used as you see fit to promote a safe workplace. Most companies will hold their Safety First Meetings each Friday or on payday. Normally, copies are made of the topic and passed out to those attending the meeting. The person presenting reads the topic aloud while the others follow along. Following the reading of the topic there is an open discussion on the topic. Close attention is paid as to how that week’s topic applies to the job site. Also encouraged are discussions regarding safety concerns and safety items of interest. Click on the link above for complete details.  
  Your Hearing: Keep it for a Lifetime  
  This Safety First Topic looks at hearing loss and how it can be prevented.  
  Working Together  
  This Safety First Program describes the effectiveness of working together with your company and fellow employees in ensuring a safe working environment.  
  Work Clothes and Safety  
  This Safety First Topic explains the importance that clothes are workers personal protection. If the clothes are not worn properly, it can affect your safety.  
  Why Prevent Accidents ?  
  This Safety First Topic strongly discusses the importance to prevent accidents in the work place.  
  What You Can Do to Prevent Cold Stress Injuries  
  This Safety First Topic discusses what you can do to protect yourself from cold stress injuries. Remember, it doesn`t have to be freezing for cold stress to occur.  
  Using Portable Electric-Powered Tools Safely  
  This Safety First Topic discusses specific OSHA guidelines to help tool users recognize the hazards associated with the different types of tools and the safety precautions necessary to prevent those hazards.  
  Understanding Safety Signs  
  This Safety First Topic takes a look at different types of signs; what they mean, and how they should be used.  
  Safety and Saving Time  
  This Safety First Topic discusses ways to ensure that time is utilized to its best, and you will make the job easier, smoother, quicker, and safer.  
  Protecting Your Eyes  
  This Safety First Topic deals with protecting your eyes at the worksite.  
  Protect Your Hands  
  This Safety First Topic deals with protecting your hands at the worksite.  
  Preventing Slips, Trips, and Falls  
  This Safety First Topic discusses what can be done to prevent slips, trips and falls. Most of the suggestions in this article can be used on the job and at home.  
  Preventing Heat Stress  
  This Safety First Topic discusses ways to prevent heat stress and how to recognize the symptoms of a number of heat-stress conditions.  
  This Safety First Topic takes a look at the content of an MSDS and provides some other important information for using an MSDS.  
  Look and Live  
  This Safety First Topic deals with paying attention and "looking" which is the most important and basic principle of accident prevention.  
  Industrial Ergonomics  
  This Safety First Topic has discussed the symptoms and causes of injuries caused by poor ergonomics.  
  How to use a jack properly  
  This Safety First Topic deals with one of the easiest pieces of equipment to operate in any industry: the jack.  
  Back Safety  
  Back disorders are listed in the "top ten" leading workplace injuries published by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.  
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