Want to stay OSHA compliant and create a safer work environment? Better communication by way of warehouse safety signs is a best practice when it comes to managing risk in the workplace. But if you’re operating a warehouse, how do you know which signs you should use and where they should be placed?
OSHA and ANSI both have a wealth of resources available to educate readers about safety signs and their regulations and standards. If you want to get the 411 on general safety sign standards these are great places to start. However, as specialists in material handling and warehouse storage, we wanted to provide our own take on warehouse safety signage.
Read on for a few common warehouse safety sign applications and why they’re important for operating a safe and productive workplace.
Material Handling Safety
Material handling offers its own unique set of challenges when it comes to workplace safety. The goals of a successful material handling operation often include increasing labor and storage space efficiency. While important, these goals don’t always mesh perfectly with personnel safety goals. This is why it’s essential for businesses to establish their own safety standards and use strategies like safety labels to help keep employees out of harm’s way.
Hazmat Symbol Placards
Chances are you’re already familiar with the hazardous materials signage adopted by the NFPA. It’s common to see diamond-shaped signs on trucks carrying flammable or toxic materials. These signs usually specify whether the payload is flammable, hazardous to health, reactive, or another specific hazard. But these signs aren’t only used on trucks — any workplace with hazardous materials needs to use hazmat placards to communicate these hazards, says OSHA. Their Hazard Communication Standard explains the purpose of mandating hazard signage:
“In order to ensure chemical safety in the workplace, information about the identities and hazards of the chemicals must be available and understandable to workers.”
Pallet Rack Capacity Labels and Placards
Pallet racking capacity labels provide vital information to anyone loading or unloading pallet racking or industrial shelving. There are two main capacity numbers that personnel should be aware of when using warehouse racking: the beam capacity and the upright frame capacity. Beam capacity refers to the maximum amount of weight that can be supported by a pair of crossbeams. Upright frame capacity refers to the maximum amount of weight that can be supported by a pair of upright frames. In other words, the combined weight of all beam levels in a bay of racking should never exceed the upright frame capacity rating.
For beam and upright frame capacities, we highly recommend contacting your material handling provider or the product’s manufacturer. Different brands and styles of pallet rack and shelving can vary greatly when it comes to capacity. Once you’re confident in the capacity numbers for these components, you can begin placing capacity labels on their respective parts.
Loading Dock Signs
Loading docks are among the most dangerous areas in any given warehouse. The amount of activity found around the loading dock and the sudden drop in elevation make it susceptible to accidents. In addition to proper safety training, it’s also important to mark them with the appropriate signage.
Loading dock safety signs can signal to passersby that the area they’re approaching is an active loading area. They can remind truck drivers to chock their wheels when unloading product to prevent any movement. Or, they can simply caution workers to watch their step when working around the dock area. Regardless of which signage you use at your loading dock, make sure the signs are in plain sight. The easier the signs are to see, the more effective they’ll be in preventing accidents. And when you’re talking about one of the most dangerous areas in the warehouse, that’s an important goal.
Communication for a Safer Workplace
Warehouse safety signs are really just another way to communicate. Safety signs and placards play an important role in warehouse safety because they communicate to personnel that there’s a potential hazard in the area, or that they need to exercise caution before doing something. They serve as reminders to employees and guests alike and send one of the most important messages in a safety-conscious workplace: be careful.