ANSI Compliant Signs and Labels

A Good Sign? (Part 3)

In ANSI, Signs and Labels on 18 March 2009 at 9:25 am

A much better sign, but still not completely ANSI compliant.

Last time, we updated the message wording so our sign was both easier to read and easier to comprehend. There is an important last step to making sure this sign is ANSI compliant: design and layout.

First, let’s talk about that safety symbol.

Inhalation Hazard

It should be noted that there is actually nothing inherently wrong with this safety symbol. The yellow and black equilateral triangle (or “hazard alerting” symbol) is an approved and often effective way to highlight a hazardous situation (ANSI Z535.3-2007 C2.1). However, sometimes using a surround shape can actually inhibit, rather than increase, understanding. This is especially true when the size of the safety symbol must be dramatically reduced.

Once the alert symbol is removed, we can expand the size of the inhalation hazard symbol:

Inhalation Hazard without a surround shape.

This will be much easier to see from a distance.

Now, let’s adjust the text.

Keep Out! Hazardous Vapors

There is no reason for the text to be red. Not only is red specified as the color of “DANGER,” red text is less bold than black. Also, adding multiple colors will often increase the cost of the sign (which was another benefit of removing the safety symbol from the hazard alert).

The text should be left-justified. As with upper- and lower-case letters (discussed last time), left justified text is much easier to read.

I’m also going to change the font from Arial to Franklin Gothic demi, which is both bolder and slightly narrower. Again, this will help our sign be seen from a distance.

Keep Out! Hazardous Vapors (much better)

With all that out of the way, we can place our elements on our sign. Here again, ANSI has given us fairly specific direction (ANSI 535.2-2007 6). I will discuss these layouts in more detail another time. For now, here is a layout which highlights our safety symbol:

ANSI Three-Panel Sign Figure 17

Finally, let’s put it all together. For clarity, I will use white text on a black background. ANSI states: “The word message’s type can be black on a white background or white on a black background. This choice should be based on which is more legible. Legibility is dependent on… type size, amount of text, reading distance, contrast with product surface, and lighting conditions” (ANSI 535.2-2007 B3.3.12).

A Good Sign

With that, we have an ANSI compliant sign! These guidelines are useful not just when designing your own signs, but when shopping for individual safety signs. Before you purchase, make sure the signs you will place in your facility are ANSI compliant. You’ll not only make your workplace much safer, but you’ll avoid an OSHA fine (which is always nice). If you have specific design needs, there are services available to help you design a custom sign or label.

I will write one more follow-up article which will discuss the specific changes we’ve made.

Click here for Part 1
Click here for Part 2

For more information on creating OSHA compliant signs, please see this Best Practices Guide offered by Graphic Products, Inc. (click here)

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  1. […] Click here for Part 1 Click here for Part 2 Click here for Part 3 […]

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