Safety Sign and Marking Requirements

Employers have a responsibility to warn their employees about hazards that exist in the workplace. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this to follow established safety sign and marking requirements.Two agencies govern safety signs and marking. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which develops, implements and enforces standards, has specifications for safety signs, accident prevention signs and safety tags in 29 CFR 1910.145.


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The OSHA regulation specific to loading dock safety is found in OSHA 29 CFR 1910.176 material handling. Huanawell product--Flammable Safety Cabinets The majority of all regulations for the loading dock environment are actually directed to the operation and design of forklifts used on loading docks. Forklift safety regulations are referenced in the general industry standard, 29 CFR 1910.178 and construction standard 29 CFR 1926.600; 1926.602 and Part II, ANSI B56.1-1969 "American National Standard for Powered Industrial Trucks". To ensure a safe loading dock environment, safe operation of forklifts must be maintained. Forklift operators are required to be trained as operators to help in this effort. See Quick Tips #106: Forklift Operator Training for those requirements. OSHA regulations for machine guarding found in OSHA 29 CFR 1910.211 should also be applied. Other standards that can apply to loading dock safety are slips, trips and falls, which can be found in OSHA 29 CFR 1910.22 walking-working surfaces and the ANSI A1264.2-2006 provision for the slip resistance on walking/working surfaces.

These specifications apply to the design, application and use of signs or symbols used to prevent accidental injuries or property damage. These specifications do not cover plant bulletin boards, safety posters or any signs designed for streets, highways, railroads or marine regulations. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a private organization which creates voluntary standards through consensus. Safety signs, accident prevention signs and safety tags are cited in Z535.1-2006(R2011), Z535.2-2011, Z535.4- 2011, Z535.5- 2011.


Sign Classification and Requirements
OSHA and ANSI classify safety signs according to use. Their definitions are very similar.
OSHA has three classifications of signs:
Danger signs—Indicate immediate danger and that special precautions are necessary. OSHA also specifies that the red, black and white colors used for Danger signs be in accordance with ANSI Z53.1-1967.
Caution signs—Warn against potential hazards or caution against unsafe practices. OSHA specifies that the standard color for Caution signs shall have a yellow background black panel and yellow letters. All letters used against the yellow background shall be black. The colors must be in accordance with ANSI Z53.1-1967.
Safety instruction signs—Used where there is a need for general instructions and suggestions relative to safety measures. OSHA specifies that the standard color for Safety Instruction signs shall be a white background, green panel and white letters. Any letters used on the white background shall be black. The colors must be in accordance with ANSI Z53.1-1967.


Accident Prevention signs are classified by ANSI Z535.2- 2011 into eight classes:
Danger—Indicate an immediately hazardous situation which, if not avoided, will result in death or serious injury. Danger is limited to the most extreme situations.
Warning—Indicate a potentially hazardous situation which, if not avoided, could result in death or serious injury.
Caution—Indicate a potentially hazardous situation which, if not avoided, may result in minor or moderate injury. Caution may also be used to alert against unsafe practices.
Notice—Indicate a statement of company policy as the message relates directly or indirectly to the safety of personnel or protection of property.
General safety—Indicate general instructions relative to safe work practices, reminders of proper safety procedures, and the location of safety equipment.
Fire safety—Indicates the location of emergency fire fighting equipment.The other two classifications are directional arrow signs and special signs.


The other two classifications are directional arrow signs and special signs.

OSHA is not specific as to sign design for danger, caution, and safety instruction signs except for purpose and colors. When complying with OSHA regulations, it is important to check under the specific sign requirement with which you are trying to comply.

OSHA does require that signs be designed with rounded or blunt corners and must be free from sharp edges, burrs, splinters or other sharp projections. The ends or heads of fastening devices cannot be located as to create a hazard.

The size of the safety sign, height and width of the letters, and viewing distances are all defined by ANSI Z535.2-2011. OSHA does not have specifications like these for signs, and refers to the ANSI standard regarding these technicalities.