How to: Interpretation Guide for 29 CFR 1910.145
The great American road trip is filled with roadside attractions, beef jerky, good music, and the occasional car trouble. No country does it better. The options are plenty for those with a few days and a few extra dollars burning a hole in their pockets. Along the way, a variety of signs are placed to warn drivers of specific hazards; animal crossing, high wind, falling rocks, and temporary work zones are just some examples. These signs heighten awareness and put the driver on the lookout to reduce danger. Now what about the workplace? Using warning signs to reduce hazards for employees is an OSHA requirement, but it’s often overlooked. Do you know how to comply with 29 CFR 1910.145? For General Industry, 1910.145 specifies “the design, application, and use of signs or symbols…that define specific hazards that could harm workers or the public, or both, or to property damage.” It covers safety signs for all employer sites except for plant bulletin boards or safety posters. Signs for public streets, highways, and railroads are exempt from the standard. The standard takes steps to clearly identify dangers universally no matter the company. Just as a yield sign looks the same in Texas as it does in California, employer safety signs should be equally uniform based on the hazard presented. Standard 1910.145(b) defines signs as warnings or safety instructions written on a surface to protect industrial workers or the public who may be exposed to hazards. Signs must have rounded or blunt corners, free of sharp projections. The fastening device (such as bolts) cannot be used in a way that would constitute a hazard. News releases, safety posters, or bulletins are not included as they are displayed for employee education and do not need to be in the area where the hazard is located. Hazard signage should:
- Have concise, easy-to-read wording.
- Contain enough information to be understood.
- Use positive suggestions.
- Contain accurate facts about the hazard.
- Used for accident prevention.
- Used to identify hazardous conditions and provide a message to employees.
- Used until the hazard is eliminated or hazardous operation is complete.
- Not needed in areas where signs, guarding, or other means of protection is utilized.
- Danger Tags: Used in major hazard situations where an immediate hazard presents the threat of death or serious injury to employees.
- Warning Tags: Used to represent a hazard in between danger and caution. This is for medium severity hazards that could cause serious injury.
- Caution Tags: Used in minor hazard situations where a lesser risk of employee injury exists. This tag can warn of a non-immediate or potential hazard, or an unsafe practice.
- Biological Hazard Tags: Used to identify the actual or potential presence of a biological hazard, including any item or area that contains or is contaminated with hazardous biological agents.