DIY Equipment Labels and Safety Signs
Labels and Signage Reduce Risks
Are you trying to achieve a more efficient, productive, and safer workplace? Every workplace has hazards. As an employer, you have a legal responsibility to look after your employees’ safety and protect them against health and safety hazards at work. In order to manage workplace health and safety and help prevent accidents and sickness absence, it’s important to identify those hazards. One way to do that is with: caution signs, arc flash labels, GHS labels, safety signs and warnings, pipe markers, equipment labels, etc. There are many facility signage standards (such as OSHA and ANSI) that simply are not an optional “when we get to it” task. It is required by law. The phrase “required by law” may feel daunting but safety doesn’t have to come at the expense of productivity. Placing warnings on your equipment that properly identify such hazards (and how to avoid them) is essential to protecting people from harm and your company from litigation.
Done right, a safety program improves efficiency and ultimately saves you money. How? Have you heard of lean, 5S, or Kaizen? These are all programs that focus on efficiency and they go hand in hand with safety/hazard marking. You can both increase workplace safety and achieve efficiency with the use of signs, equipment labels, and marking.
20 Common Applications for Equipment Labels, Markers, and Signs
Do any of those look familiar? Does your facility have those types of equipment labels, signs, or markings? Do your key processes require other types of identification? This post will look at how do-it-yourself (DIY) benchtop printers can help you improve both your facility safety and your workplace efficiency.
Equipment Labels, Signage, and Marking for Safety
Safety signs are important visuals vital to communicating warnings and other safety information. Where are signs and markings important? Some of the key areas and applications include biohazard, hazardous materials, lockout tagout, machine safety, industrial equipment, electrical energy, and first aid just to name a few. For many of these applications, having signs that are OSHA/ANSI compliant helps you to be properly prepared for safety inspections.
Learn more about safety standards with this short three-minute video, which discusses “safety alert symbols” and “pictograms” and what these mean for modern safety initiatives.
The Difference Proper Signage Can Make
Example #1: exit signs. Easily found and readily available. Various sizes and color options. But what about putting exit signs at the required eye-level height AND putting a series of exit signs at or around 24 inches height on the walls and corners of a high traffic hallway? Consider a fire and all the smoke. What if smoke obscured sight at 48 inches height but not at 24 inches height? A simple additional sign could very well save a co-worker’s life.
Example #2: a series of hot steam pipes. When correctly labeled, maintenance staff will be better able to quickly identify the hazard and avoid burns. These pipes are HOT to the touch, stay away! Intuitively color-coded options exist to indicate the temperature and the pressure at a glance. Making signage instinctive and intuitive is a big part of making it effective.
Example #3a: an electrical control panel out on the factory floor. This panel controls the conveyor for a bagging and sealing system. When correctly labeled, a passerby on the factory floor will be able to note that this particular control panel is a real hazard and they should avoid it. A typical sign/label might state “Authorized Personnel Only”. Many of the related OSHA standards try to keep non-qualified employees away from the hazard entirely.
Example #3b: consider the previous scenario above. An electrical control panel with an arc flash hazard. Facility staff could apply tape/markers on the actual floor to mark out the exact area into which only authorized personnel should enter. This additional safety measure would be above and beyond the labels on the panel itself. Steps like this have been proven to help prevent accidents and injury.
Signage and Marking for Efficiency
Your industrial facility needs solutions that save you time. Ideally, a signage and marking solution will be convenient and able to be customized. Have you explored the possibility of creating your own custom content on-demand vs. ordering pre-printed labels and signs? There are almost infinite use case scenarios for custom signage that can help make your facility more efficient.
Example #4: commonly used items in a storeroom. If the shelves are unlabeled, workers may grab the wrong item. Sometimes, this is a big deal. Imagine two different aerosol spray cans. One is a lubricant, used on rotors and shafts. The other is yellow epoxy spray paint. Someone in a hurry is more likely to grab the correct item if the items are well labeled. This can help avoid wasted time cleaning up and fixing mistakes that didn’t need to happen.
Example #5: maintenance workers use hand tools and power tools to repair equipment in your facility. Tools keep getting lost and misplaced. A worker may take a tool from storeroom #1, use it, and then erroneously return it to storeroom #2. There is no home for it there, so it sits on a shelf. After two weeks, it is discarded. The clerk in storeroom #1 orders a new tool, the cost of which isn’t really needed or justified. Creative signage solutions can help drive this wasted cost out of your organization. Shadow board signage is installed, with a visually compelling place for each tool. Tools are tagged or marked with “If found, return to XYZ”. Signage is put in place reminding employees to return tools and what the use policy is. Sometimes the simplest signage solutions can give you the biggest ROI!
Example #6: there is a point-of-use (POU) cabinet in one area of a factory. This POU cabinet acts as a mini storeroom for supplies needed locally in this area of the factory. Having the “satellite” storeroom helps save time and energy, as employees do not need to walk the full distance back to the central storeroom. There are 100 SKUs stored in this POU cabinet and each item has a color-coded sign on it, with a green/red background. If an employee takes an item and the background they see is green – no action required. If they take an item (say a roll of tape) and they see a red background, that is the prompter for someone to go and replenish that SKU. Reorder information is handily located on the graphic.
In the example above, your organization increases efficiency by reducing the actual distance employees travel. Your organization also increases efficiency by clearly outlining when and how the material is replenished.
Considering DIY vs. Pre-made Labels and Signs?
There are lots of options out there for pre-printed labels and signs. For some of the examples we discussed, a “stock” solution will get you by just fine. Sometimes, you need a truly custom option. In these cases, a DIY option like a benchtop printer just might be a better option for you and your team. If you work in one of these departments, or if your company has a Kaizen or 5S program, contact one of our Safety Specialists to learn more about advanced sign and label printing options.