ANSI Compliant Signs and Labels

What are you trying to accomplish?

In Signs and Labels on 7 May 2009 at 2:03 pm

Caution: This Sign Has SHARP EDGES!

Can’t read the fine print? Click through.

I am constantly asking myself a very simple question: What are you trying to accomplish? It applies to any situation, but it is especially important when I ‘m creating a new safety sign or label for a client. Every facility has a need for signs and many of those signs are going to be similar or identical. But every facility also has specific hazards or procedures which are unique to that company.

These unique challenges have given rise to custom label services. These services are great and serve an extremely important purpose. Before you go making your own label, though, ask yourself: What are you trying to accomplish? Here are three easy steps to creating a perfect (and ANSI compliant) sign:

Notice: Wash Your Hands1) What type of sign do you need?

As always, this flow chart will help you pick the right header depending on the hazard. Remember, too, that safety signs can be extremely helpful even when there is no dangerous hazard. There may not be a risk of personal injury, but there are many instances where a sign will make your facility safer, more efficient, and more productive.

The swine flu scare can be a perfect example, actually. One of the best ways to avoid any flu is to simply wash your hands often. Avoiding a potentially series disease is already on everyone’s mind, so a gentle reminder in every restroom can be extremely effective toward creating healthy habits. And staying healthy is good for everyone.

NOTICE signs tend to be under-utilized. Think about the important messages that can create a better working environment in your facility.

Danger: Crush Hazard2) What is your primary message?

In any hazardous situation, there are many details which can help keep a person safe. Compiling all of this information on a single sign is not only impractical and a little silly, it also creates an added danger. Instead, we need to decide which pieces of information are most important or will keep a person out of immediate danger.

The shorter the message, the better. In fact, once you decide on a message for your sign, try to cut out 3 words. Once you’ve done that, try to cut out 3 more. This simple exercise helps to make your statement more powerful. Here are some examples…

  • Instead of “Do Not Enter” use “Keep Out”
  • Remove all instances of the words “this,” “that,” “they,” “we,” “a,” “the,” “an,” “is,” “are,” and “were.”
  • Make sure all statements are concise, avoid using “should,” “might,” or “in order to.”
  • Remove any information not directly related to health, safety, or property damage.

3) What are you trying to accomplish?

Finally, make sure your sign effectively communicates exactly what needs to occur (or not occur) to avoid a hazard. Here is a situation which may exist in any facility:

A potentially deadly chemical is in storage behind a locked door. A supplied-air respirator must be worn before entering the room and the room must remain locked at all other times.

There are several pieces of crucial information here, so the key is to highlight the most important element. Here are two possible sign designs:

Warning: Locked Door, Respirator Required

While both of these signs present fine information, the second is much more effective because it informs the reader exactly how to avoid the hazard. Focusing on the respirator also carries the implication of hazardous materials. The symbol is also clear and instantly understandable. Focusing on the lock will neither indicate the nature of the hazard, nor explicitly state personal precautionary measures.

With these simple steps, you’re on the right track to creating signs which serve as effective communication tools. Also, watch out for that bridge.


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