OSHA Required Caution Signs
Electrical panel signs designed as caution signs and danger signs are necessary to remind workers that the area around the panel has to stay clear. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires that facilities keep the area in front of electrical panels clear for at least 36 inches. Caution signs bring attention to this important safety concern when serious danger is not present.
Keeping your electrical panel clear is important because it makes working on the panel much easier, especially in an emergency. Having easy access to the panel gives your staff the time that they need to flip switches and get to the breakers, which reduces the time before power surges or faulty machine wiring does serious damage.
By keeping this area clear, the risk of conducting electrical current to nearby objects is also cut down. If the panel is not properly wired, and metal ladders, poles, or other materials that conduct electricity are nearby, workers using those pieces of equipment can be seriously injured, with those injuries possibility resulting in death.
Having a clear area around your electrical panel may also help firefighters. During an electrical fire, if started near the panel, there would be less combustible materials to help the fire spread across your facility if the area is cleared out.
Both caution signs and danger signs, with OSHA approved headers and colors, can be helpful to avoiding these situations. ANSI versions of the danger and caution signs have approved headers and messages, with the addition of easy to understand images that help all workers, regardless of language, to work properly around the electrical panels.
ANSI Standards on Your Pipes
When alerting workers to potential hazard, ANSI caution signs are used in conditions where there is a “moderate to minor injury” risk. ANSI states that the signs should have a yellow header with signal words and symbols written in black to further clarify the hazard.
ANSI also has standards relating to the pipes in your facility. In the ANSI / ASME A13.1 2007 standard, the color combination for industrial pipe markers on pipes that carry flammable fluids is also yellow and black. A safety yellow background with black legend alerts staff and maintenance workers of the potentially hazardous materials that flow in the pipes, which pose a “moderate to minor injury” risk.
Popular legends on yellow “caution” pipe makers are for fuel oil return and supply, natural gas (both general and PSI specific legends), and medical air supplies.
According to the ANSI / ASME A13.1 1996 color scheme, pipe markers with a yellow background and black legend marked pipes carrying materials that are “inherently hazardous.” These include flammable, explosive, chemically active, toxic, and radioactive materials. The newer 2007 standard further breaks these types of materials down into different classifications.
Caution sign size and text size is determined by the location of the sign and its relation to the hazard. Pipe markers can not change in size, as they must match the size of the pipe, so spacing of the pipe markers on the pipe becomes more important, along with the direction that the markers installed.
“Caution” pipe markers are installed close to valves, branches, and anywhere that the pipe changes direction. The pipe should be marked before and after wall, ceiling, and floor passes. For long, uninterrupted runs of pipe, pipe markers should be installed for best visibility, which is typically every 20 feet. The distance can be cut down if pipes run along other piping systems or if visibility is obstructed.
Caution Signs for Floor Hazards
Folding floor signs, floor tents, floor stands, whatever it is you call them, they all work as caution signs to help alert you of potential hazards. These portable and lightweight signage options are typically seen in stores and supermarkets just after the PA system announces “Cleanup on Aisle 4.” Durable plastic construction and a clear message make these special caution signs the favorite choice for small business owners who only need one or two and are happy to have safety equipment that will last for several years.
Caution signs and floor safety cones are effective ways to alert employees and visitors of a serious but not often thought of hazard – standing water. Whether from a spill or tracked inside from rain or snow, water is a dangerous safety hazard.
Slip and fall injuries are one of the leading causes of missed time at work in the United States. These injuries account for 8.9 million emergency room visits annually (source: NSC.org).
Remember, Caution Signs are only used when Minor to Moderate physical injury is possible, or when damage to property is possible. When there is a more serious possible threat, such as Major or Life Threatening injuries, Danger Signs should be used instead. These are examples of ANSI Construction Site Caution Signs:
OSHA Caution Sign Standards are a little different, here are some examples: