How to conduct a signage audit

August 3, 2008
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The following guidelines will help you determine what safety signs and markings your company needs to be a safe and compliant work environment.

Safety audit
When conducting a safety audit of your facility, remember to start in the parking lot and outlying workspaces, then work your way into office and warehouse space. Check whether your parking signs are the correct size and material. Parking lot signs should be at least 18 inches by 12 inches and made out of aluminum. Other non-office buildings that may require safety signs are maintenance sheds, waste storage areas and loading docks. If there are any hazardous chemicals stored in these areas, you will need to obtain biological hazard signs and mount them in an easily visible location near the chemicals. Any hazardous waste must also be clearly labeled on the container and distinguished from non-hazardous waste.

Most warehouse settings have a similar set of safety sign requirements. Forklifts and loading docks frequently present potential carbon monoxide hazards. These areas need to be marked clearly with warning signs as well as equipped with fire extinguishers. Aisles should be kept clear of obstructions and the use of floor marking tape is highly recommended. Electrical panels need high voltage signs and a clearance area, overhead storage compartments need load capacity signs, and process pipes need pipe markers.

If your facility has a compressed gas storage area, make sure you are storing your gases in a safe and compliant manner. Common gases that are stored in these types of areas are oxygen, LP gas, acetylene and hydrogen. Oxygen cylinders need to be separated from fuel-gas cylinders or any other combustible materials at a minimum of 20 feet or by a non-combustible barrier that is at least 5 feet tall. You should also consider marking designated areas with hazard marking tapes to avoid confusion and to make this potentially dangerous workspace as safe as possible.

Chemical storage
Chemical storage areas can be the most dangerous places in pipeline and gas facilities. Using the correct warning signs and markers around chemicals is essential to maintaining safety. Place a chart on the wall that identifies all hazards in the area so that it is clear where potential danger exists. Fire extinguishers and non-smoking signs must always be present and easily viewable in all chemical storage areas, spray booth operations and welding areas. Non-smoking signs must prohibit smoking within 50 feet of any chemical storage container. Whenever chemicals are transferred from larger containers to smaller ones used in other areas of the facility, you must label the small containers with the correct chemical and hazard labels. Also, make sure to use aisle-marking tapes in chemical storage areas to re-enforce the safety warnings on your signs.

In addition to the safety signs described above, specific sign requirements exist for cranes, biohazard labs, kitchens and any potentially dangerous areas. Make sure your facility is completely compliant with OSHA and ANSI standards using a professional audit.

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