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Safety Pictures-
Making Effective Safety Signs

industrial safety-osha
Photoluminescent Best Practices Guide

Written by Steve Hudgik

Pictures showing what others have done can help us to improve safety in our workplace.  There are a lot of web sites featuring funny safety pictures – and they show the same pictures over and over.  While these types of safety pictures may be “fun” (or shocking) they are not particularly helpful.  This page has pictures we hope are helpful for improving safety.

Emergency Information

During an emergency, making information available is critical. It may be dark or smokey. People may be confused or disoriented.  Emergency responders are coming into an unknown environment.  NFPA 101 has recognized the importance of phosphorescent marking of stairwells and exit paths in buildings. But phosphorescent markings, signs and labels are important throughout your workplace. These photos show two examples:

fire extinguisher phosphorescent marking phosphorescent door frame

As shown here phosphorescent tape is used to outline doorways and mark the floor to highlight the pathway to exits.  Phosphorescent signs provide important information at the doorway.  Should the lights go out, the glow-in-the-dark signs and markings provide bright, easy-to-see directions to help people get out of the building.  In addition, by providing light within a darkened building these markings and signs help prevent disorientation and confusion.

Marking equipment such as fire extinguishers with phosphorescent signs is also critical.  It allows even someone who is not familiar with the location to find emergency equipment.

Big Die-Cut Labels Improve Safety

arc flash hazard label rtk safety label

Hazard warnings and safety information is not effective if it is not noticed or can't be read from a safe distance.  These two safety pictures compare standard size die-cut labels with large size DuraLabel die-cut labels.  In the past the largest die-cut label size has been 4” x 6”.  But DuraLabel health and safety die-cut labels are available in sizes up to 8.8” x 12.8”.  That provides an area that is more than 4-1/2 times greater!

Larger labels provide room for larger text.  A rule of thumb is that, in natural outdoor lighting, one inch of letter height equals a best impact readability distance of about ten feet.   The larger DuraLabel die-cuts allow text and symbols to be twice as large, which doubles the best impact readability distance of a label or sign.

OSHA NFPA Best Practices Guide
Free NFPA Diamond Guide

Notice that the DuraLabel RTK labels on the drums have white circles within each of the colors in the NFPA diamond.  Emergency responders have complained that it can be difficult to red the black printing on both the blue and red backgrounds on the NFPA diamond, because of the low contrast. By providing high contrast white areas for the hazard ratings to be printed, DuraLabel NFPA diamond labels are easier to read and more effective in limited visibility conditions.

Don't Forget Unused Pipes

This is an important safety picture. When pipes are no longer used and abandoned, we tend to forget about them.  There is nothing in the pipe, so why should we be concerned about them?  Because emergency responders don't know that.  Someone coming into your workplace to respond to emergency has probably never been there before.  They need to know what is in each pipe, including pipes that are empty.  Otherwise they need to assume worse case conditions and that slows their response and can result in additional damage.  All pipes should be marked to comply with the ANSI A13.1 standard, even unused and temporary pipes.pipe labels

Are you looking to have highly effective safety signs and labels? Then you need a DuraLabel label printer.  Call 1-888-326-9244 today for more information.  Ask about special DuraLabel OSHA Safety Kits.  You'll be glad you did.

The information presented in this document was obtained from sources that we deem reliable; Graphic Products does not guarantee accuracy or completeness. Graphic Products, Inc. makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied. Users of this document should consult municipal, state, and federal code and/or verify all information with the appropriate regulatory agency.

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