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New technology on the horizon for safety signage

March 1, 2012

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Many comments from managers indicate the majority of outdoor OSHA lockout signage can’t withstand wash downs or the elements. Are there any new technologies on the horizon that could help?

Responding is Todd Morrison, safety product manager, Master Lock Co., Milwaukee, WI.

Answer: Safety signs and tags are meant to keep employees safe while adhering to and maintaining OSHA signage compliance. However, not all of these items are created equal. I’ve heard numerous comments from managers indicating the majority of facility safety identification signs and tags won’t hold up in many conditions. They’re finding signage that prematurely fades or tags that peel sooner than expected, often caused by the dirty and hot environments they exist in, and after so many wash downs, they require frequent replacement.

The good news is a reliable, long-term solution is the best investment and a choice you can make with confidence. New technology is now available and items can be found in the marketplace offering ultra-durability and reusability. Signage and tags are a necessity, and these products are well worth tracking down. They will make a difference when you realize how much time you’re saving not having to replace them as often and how your budget figure trends downward.

Products that identify a worker or safety lockout message can be found in an encased, fused plastic and UV-safe mold designed from rugged, industrial-grade polypropylene. This advanced material, combined with high clarity and quality color, can be customized with photos, graphics or logos. The in-mold process ensures they will remain clear and vibrant for years in any environment. That’s important because these products are designed to quickly and easily identify any potentially dangerous situation and keep employees safe.

You also want to investigate products that will perform in extreme environments. Look for the ones that survived exposure to literally everything under the sun – think high humidity and extreme temperatures – as well as UV radiation, harsh chemicals and frequent wash downs. 

Products that are QUV test-qualified, which is equivalent to 10 years of outdoor exposure, will give you superior performance both indoors and out. I’d also recommend for you to use tags that exceed the OSHA requirement of 50 pounds pull strength; these products now available are capable of withstanding in excess of 90 pounds.

Another benefit with using these signs and tags is they are fully reusable. Consider the efficiency of writing in permanent marker the employee’s name, department and estimated completion date on a “DO NOT OPERATE” lockout tag. When the job’s done, you simply remove it with an isopropyl based alcohol wipe, leaving the tag clean and ready to use for the next job. 

Lastly, instead of buying multiple signs with separate safety messages, consider the flexibility of purchasing “blank” Danger, Caution, Warning and Notice signs on which you can write in the exact safety message for the machine or area.

Editor’s Note: This article represents the independent views of the author and should not be construed as National Safety Council endorsements.

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