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Safety Posters and signs are tools that remind employees to be safe on the job.
Safety posters usually include basic information regarding training that you may have already received. Lots of times, these posters include information that is well known but regularly ignored or bypassed for convenience. Common information included on custom safety posters include reminders to:
Safety posters can sometimes even list procedures or steps for doing your work safely. However, these usually cross over into compliance signs and labor law posters, which we will discuss more below.
While not all retailers offer free posters, some do. It is relatively easy to find custom safety posters and download them for free. Posters that are required by OSHA for every workplace are available for free on the OSHA website. Making your own posters, of course, is free and depending on what safety information you want, may be the best option for you.
Here at Hard Hat Construction Safety Training, we offer a large variety of safety posters that are available for free download. This means you would have to print and frame them yourself. This means you may still need to pay to get it printed in the size you want. If you don’t want to go through that hassle, there is an option on our website that allows you to purchase our safety poster pre-printed and in a basic frame.
It is important that you or your employer put safety posters and OSHA required informational posters in your workplace somewhere where they will be seen often. There are some general tips on where you should place these posters to ensure that all employees can read the information on them. These tips do not apply to compliance signs or accident prevention signs and tags.
Aside from the safety posters that are required by federal, state, and local agencies, you should have safety posters that are creative and relevant. It is up to you to choose what safety posters you should have and want in your workplace. Some safety posters are general enough, though, that they could apply to basically any workplace. These posters include:
*Social distancing was an important safety practice beginning with the COVID-19 pandemic. Most workplaces today have discontinued or deemed social distancing as no longer necessary. Some workplaces may or may not still require social distancing.
There are some particular posters and signs that OSHA requires every workplace to have. There are certain requirements that need to be met for some of them to be required and some can vary in states that have a state plan. But the following sections will explain which posters are required and the conditions that meet those requirements.
OSHA requires all employers to display the OSHA Job Safety and Health: It’s the Law poster somewhere in their workplace where all employees can see it. If the employer has an older version of the poster, then they do not need to replace it with the newer one. A PDF file of the OSHA poster is available for free on the OSHA website and is available in multiple other languages as well.
This poster is required because it displays important information regarding workers’ rights and employers’ responsibilities. There is also OSHA contact information at the bottom. If you work in a state with a state plan, they will likely have their own version of the OSHA poster.
Any employer that has at least one paid employee is required to post federal, state, and local labor law posters in their workplace. Like the OSHA poster, these posters are available for free download and need to be placed somewhere where all employees can see and read them. The information on these posters varies between the individual federal, state, and local posters.
The information included on posters regarding labor laws are incredibly important. Labor laws are protections for employees in the workforce from employer discrimination and unsafe work practices. OSHA mandates a lot of these labor laws. Important labor laws include:
There are federal mandates for these as well as individual state and local government mandates, all of which will be included on their respective posters.
Compliance signs are different from safety posters because rather than demonstrate a safety principle through creative means, compliance signs are used to advise safety or alert employees of a hazard. They are more direct in message and simple in design. OSHA only requires certain compliance signs where they are necessary or industry specific.
You have likely seen many of these signs before, such as exit signs, traffic control signs, and no smoking signs. Some are made for the public, but some are OSHA specific and only found in certain workplaces.
Think back on the warehouse incident with Jenna and the forklift operator. Imagine if the operator had not been honking his horn and if he had been driving fast. Compliance signs placed in the warehouse at the aisles would have helped him to remember to use his horn and drive slowly. Doing so would have prepared him to stop and alert others in time to prevent the accident.
Accident prevention signs and tags are similar to safety posters and compliance signs required by OSHA but are more hazard specific. Accident prevention signs refer to signs or symbols used to define, indicate, and instruct employees concerning workplace hazards. OSHA controls the design, application, and use of these signs and tags.
You have likely seen these signs before, because they are also necessary to alert the public to nearby hazards. These signs include:
Accident prevention tags are used specifically to mark areas, equipment, vehicles, and tools that are currently unsafe to enter or use. They cannot be used in place of accident prevention signs and cannot be removed until whatever they are attached to has been repaired or deemed safe by a qualified individual.
Important information shared on tags include pictographs and signal words. The pictograph is either a pictorial representation of the hazard associated with whatever the tag is on or of a particular safety instruction. Each tag will also have a signal word that conveys a message regarding the associated hazard such as “danger,” “caution,” or “biohazard.” Tags need to have a pictograph or a signal word, but it is acceptable and normal for them to have both.
OSHA has adopted the labeling system used by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and requires them for labeling hazardous materials. These signs and labels identify and warn employees of the nature of hazardous chemicals and substances. They use a diamond-shaped pictograph with four sections inside that contain a different color and number or symbol. These sections are:
Unlike other compliance signs, NFPA signs and labels are intended to be put on the material container itself and not in the workplace. However, sometimes these containers are portable, and other times they are not. For example, an NFPA sign could be put on a silo just outside the workplace, indicating to employees that the substance it contains is hazardous.
There are few other compliance signs that are required by OSHA. Even signs that are not required can be of tremendous help in providing workers with instruction and caution in the workplace. Compliance signs are even important to the public. For example, traffic signs are vital to instructing drivers on how to drive and when to be wary of roadside hazards.
Compliance signs are a good measure to implement as part of a safety program or safety management system in the workplace. They can warn employees of workplace hazards or hazardous conditions in an area, such as uneven walking surfaces.
It is actually highly recommended that in addition to required compliance signs, you make your own custom compliance signs tailored for your workplace. Many third-party retailers offer customizable compliance signs. Each workplace has its own unique hazards and safety procedures, so signs that either warn or instruct employees are especially helpful.
These custom compliance signs should be placed where they are applicable, and not in high traffic areas the way safety posters would be placed. For example, placing slow speed signs for forklift drivers by the entrance to a warehouse aisle will be much more helpful and relevant than slow speed signs in the break room.
Another set of posters that is common in workplaces are safety month posters. For example, June is considered National Safety Month (NSM) when public awareness of leading safety and health risks is increased to help reduce workplace injury and death. This is because there is a higher number of workplace injuries and death during the summer months.
The National Safety Council (NSC) spearheads NSM by providing topics to focus on each week of the month and associated materials to bring awareness to each topic. Included in these materials is a workplace poster with a QR code leading to the NSC website for more info on each week's topic.
You are not required to have this poster in your workplace, however, most workplaces do have an NSM poster to help spread awareness of safety from hazards. They are free for download on the NSC website, and they are a great way to support the workforce's emphasis on safety as a whole.
Another great way to utilize posters in the workplace is by finding a different hazard to focus on each month. There is no set topic for each month according to OSHA, but plenty of third-party organizations and groups have put together a twelve-month list. Especially with industries that have a large number of hazards to think about, safety month posters can help boost awareness.
For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has established April as distracted driving awareness month. Putting up a safety poster with information and statistics regarding distracted driving can help you and your fellow employees be aware and avoid distracted driving.