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Safety signage

February 1, 2013

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How can signage be used to improve not only safety, but also employee morale and motivation?

Responding is Kristen Hogrefe, catalog manager, Accuform Signs, Brooksville, FL.

No one would ever question the need for employers to inform employees about hazards and take steps to protect them, yet the element of motivation is just as important to help foster a successful and safe workplace. The use of signage assists employers in driving home safety incentive messages to create a more productive, positive work environment.

Facility safety signage is not only a priority, but also a requirement. For example, if a facility contains biohazards, the employer must post signage to identify the hazard as well as any equipment, containers and items that contain hazardous agents (1910.145(e)(4)). Other examples include posting signs to identify electrical hazards (1910.335(b)(1)) and exits (1910.37(b)(2)). In short, some signage is required by law.

Employers may be tempted to do “just enough” to stay in compliance. No company wants to risk violating regulations and facing hefty fines and bad publicity.

Harder to price is the value of signage that helps motivate employees to understand not only why the job needs to get done, but also why it needs to get done safely. All of us would agree that a motivated, safety-conscious employee outperforms an unengaged, indifferent employee any day.

So how can employers use signage to help turn employees into actively engaged achievers while underscoring the importance of safety?

Use highly visual signage

On a daily basis, we are drawn to visual stimuli ranging from high-definition technology to a dazzling array of advertising. For motivational signage to be noticed, it must stand out. Try combining the following elements:

  • Vibrant, eye-catching colors
  • High-resolution graphics
  • Full-color images and photography
  • Concise messages that employees can relate to and appreciate

Do not be afraid to think outside the box. From wall to window graphics, banners to posters, scoreboards to safety centers, creative product solutions abound to emphasize your message and attract employee attention.

Placement is another factor that determines signage effectiveness. Will the signs be placed indoors or outdoors? Will they be exposed to temperature extremes or the elements? How large should they be for employees to notice? How will the signs be mounted?

Employers should give careful thought to what type of signage and what materials will be most effective for their facility.

Personalize signage for employees

Sometimes grown-ups forget the fundamentals. They think, “I’m steady on my feet; I don’t need to wear a harness.” An employee could rationalize, “There’s no reason I need to wear safety glasses on the production floor.” Maybe nothing will happen. Maybe no one will get hurt. But what if someone does? What is the ultimate reminder to employees to work safely on the job and take all necessary precautions?

The answer is simple: Their family is depending on them.

Signage personalized with employee photos and messages helps remind workers of the reason they should actively participate in jobsite safety. Employers can use visually stimulating, personalized signage to remind employees why they should work safely. In turn, employees recognize that engaging in safety serves to promote both their company’s – and their own – success.

You can’t pin a price tag on safe and motivated employees. That combination is priceless.

Editor's note: This article represents the independent views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

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