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Occupational safety signs best practices and standards

Hazard signs are an important part of workplace safety. They warn employees of potential dangers and remind them to use safety equipment in the area. However, many North Carolina work sites may be using safety signs that are not approved by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration because they are out of date.

While occupational safety signs can be purchased online or in catalogs, in most cases they may not be in compliance with guidelines that were changed by the American National Standards Institute in 2013. For instance, the oval danger signs that were once OSHA-approved have been replaced with signs that reflect the latest best practices, and these changes are for the better.

The updated sign designs not only incorporate the newest standards-based warning technologies, but they can also effectively work to improve a company's system of safety and risk communication to help keep employees safe. In fact, the design of occupational safety signs has significantly improved in the last 100 years. When safety signs were first used in 1914 to warn people of certain hazards at the work site, one of the first sign designs to appear displayed a crude arrow-style with the word "danger". Then, in 1941, the first national standard for safety signs was published by the organization that later became known as ANSI. Although the standard it established in 1941 still continues, the improved sign designs visually communicate to people who cannot read English, use symbols to stand out, and show the result of interacting with the hazard or how one can avoid the hazard.

Although warning signs can help keep employees safe from workplace dangers, they cannot guarantee that there will never be workplace injury accidents. Most employees who are injured on the job are eligible to file a claim for workers' compensation benefits, and they may want to have legal assistance when doing so in order to ensure that the claim is complete and filed on a timely basis.

Source: Safety and Health, "Standards and best practices for workplace safety signs", May 17, 2017

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