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How to Label Your Facility for Safety

By: Kelsey Rzepecki, Contributor

Before beginning work, it’s crucial to evaluate your facility for safety hazards. Consistent and effective labeling, in accordance with OSHA and other industry regulations, is essential to prevent workplace injuries, costly downtime, workers’ compensation claims and fines.

You can do this by making safety a priority before any work begins and communicating hazards and safety instructions with effective signs and labels. Start by conducting a facility safety inspection and evaluation of all operations, equipment and work areas. Here are the main areas to address for general industry compliance:

General Safety

Every facility has different needs and limitations, but a safe work environment is a requirement for all workplaces. Everyone in your facility must understand the message each sign conveys. OSHA helps break down how safety signs should be used and where they should be placed.

Identification of Piping Systems

If your facility has a piping system, keep personnel safe and alert to hazards of a pipe’s contents by marking all pipes and piping components. Clear labeling can also increase safety and efficiency during maintenance and shut-off procedures.

Electrical Equipment and Safety

General electrical safety requirements show up on OSHA’s top 10 most frequently cited violations year after year. In addition to OSHA’s regulations, the industry standard to follow for electrical workplace safety is NFPA 70E. Prevent injury from electrical hazards by clearly labeling all control panels and components. Display voltage ratings, arc flash warnings, electrical clearances and important safety procedures, such as lockout/tagout.

Because each workplace is different, you may need the ability to customize electrical signs and identification labels. With the variety of rules about equipment labeling, it can be difficult to keep track of exactly what is required.

Emergency Preparedness

Eliminate risk to workers in emergencies. Ensure your workplace is ready for a potential disaster with effective planning and preparation to minimize company losses. Get a breakdown of the components of emergency planning and equip your facility with key emergency signage and markings. Utilize checklists to assess your facility’s needs, and understand the elements of an OSHA-required Emergency Action Plan (EAP).

Hazardous Chemicals

Workers need to know about and understand any chemical hazards they’ll be working with. Identify all hazardous chemicals present in the workplace, and clearly label them in accordance with OSHA’s preferred labeling approach, based on the international GHS system. Understand the components of GHS Labeling and how to make a compliant chemical label.

Lean Manufacturing

Keep your day-to-day operations and workspaces organized by implementing lean manufacturing tools, such as the 5S system. Install effective visuals to give workers clear and accurate identification of locations, equipment, procedures, hazards, inventories and tools.

Floor Marking

OSHA requires the periodic inspection of all walking and working surfaces to ensure they are kept clean, safe and accessible (29 CFR 1910.22). Consistent and clear markings help improve overall efficiency and safety, especially in warehousing environments. Enhance safety and improve order with floor marking products to designate work zones, mark aisles and alert personnel to hazardous areas.

Label Placement and Visual Solutions

All signs and labels should always be clearly visible and legible. Proper label placement will support this and can reduce chances of miscommunication and potential injury. For effective label placement:

  • Place labels and signs at eye-level for a clear view from a normal angle of approach.
  • Color-code labels to make them easier to recognize from long distances.
  • Install floor markings to communicate messages in hard-to-label areas.
  • Improve safety awareness and navigation anywhere with thoughtful wayfinding.

Maintain safety and compliance by conducting periodic facility safety inspections to uncover new hazards and conditions, and always have a plan in place to mitigate them. Also, make sure labels remain intact, legible and accurate.

To ensure long-lasting labels, use high-quality labeling supplies that are engineered to endure a variety of harsh industrial environments. This will save you from ongoing replacement costs and help your overall bottom line. You can also instantly enhance safety anywhere with premade labels and signs that feature a variety of general safety messages for popular industry applications.  WMHS

Kelsey Rzepecki writes for Graphic Products, makers of the DuraLabel line of industrial label and sign printers. (www.graphicproducts.com)

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