Meeting OSHA / CCOHS standards by identifying and marking hazards
Posted on July 15, 2013 by Enrico Santos
We’re back once again with some more construction site safety tips. In a previous article we discussed how construction site safety can greatly benefit from using the right safety sign. Now, we’re going to talk about another benefit of marking, and this time with hazards around the facility.
Before we start, be aware that Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) in the United States and Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) in Canada have a strict set of guidelines concerning the signs, tags, and labels we place in our facility as well as where we place them.
These rules are there for a reason: studies have shown that the regulations on these items do in fact lower accident rates. This pretty much explains the need to comply with it in order to have as safe a site as possible.
Another thing that you need to do is make sure your people are trained to recognize the signs, tags, and labels you will be adding. After all, what use is marking potentially dangerous chemicals and machines if the people entrusted with it do not understand the danger labels.
With that in mind, let’s now discuss the three most common ways of marking hazards: signs, tags, and labels. Each one has its place in keeping your people safe but each one also has specific uses.
Signs are a large placard that is a relatively permanent fixture which provides information. Normally these are put up to remind people of the inherent dangers of the equipment they are using or the location where they are working.
The signs that follow the OSHA/CCOHS standards are highly visible with very clear headers. While it is true that some people will just see signs as part of the background (especially if they’ve been working in the area a long time) visitors and newcomers will find that it provides an ample reminder to keep safe by avoiding certain actions.
Tags are a quick way to label objects and items. Smaller than signs, proper placement of the tag is key in getting it noticed by your personnel. It does help however, that most tags are brightly colored and do catch the attention of those who are looking to operate the device it has been placed.
By now, most of you will probably know tags from lockout-tagout procedures, and indeed that is the most common use of it. However, tags are also used as temporary markers for potentially dangerous items such as machinery and even chemicals in certain cases. The main advantage of tags is that it can be easily taken off in the event that the warning no longer serves its purpose, something not as easily done with signs and labels.
A little smaller than tags but definitely more permanent, labels are a happy medium between signs and tags. You often see these labels on items for transit such as drums of chemicals, boxes, and crates since the adhesive allows it to remain more or less in the same place.
Labels are available in a variety of configurations, including ones which meet OSHA/CCOHS standards as well as non-standard ones. Be sure to pay attention to the type of adhesive the label uses as well since you’ll want it to stay attached for as long as possible during transit.
Making the grade and keeping people safe
All in all, identifying hazards and marking it with signs, tags, and labels shouldn’t constitute the be all end all of your safety push. These marking devices should simply form a part of an overall safety plan for your entire facility and operations. Regardless, properly leveraged, these will lower accident rates and keep people safe.
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