When we walk past a construction site on our way to the coffee shop, we’re accustomed to seeing a variety of safety signs. There are good reasons for this. Construction sites can be very dangerous places. Despite advances in construction safety equipment, technology and training, the construction industry continues to face high rates of fatal and non-fatal injuries and accidents among its workers. For example, 20 percent of worker deaths in the United States are in construction, but construction workers make up only 6 percent of the U.S. labor force.
Here are a few pretty shocking construction site injury statistics:
- One in five deaths among U.S. workers is in the construction industry.
- A total of 1,061 construction workers died on the job in 2019.
- Each year, 9.7 of every 100,000 construction workers suffer a fatal injury, which is the fourth-highest rate of any industry.
- Falls account for 33% of all construction deaths
- More than 130,000 construction workers missed days of work due to injuries in 2019.
For these reasons and many more, regulation has been put into place to attempt to reduce the dangerous risks of construction work. A group of these regulations reflect requirements for construction site signage.
There are two groups that create and maintain safety signage for construction sites and elsewhere. The first is OSHA - the Occupational Health and Safety Administration. OSHA is a governmental agency that was created by Congress in 1971 as a subset of the Department of Labor. OSHA regulations are law. ANSI is the American National Standards Institute. ANSI’s primary mission is to facilitate standards that, when adhered to, set a level of quality and safety across an entire industry. However, ANSI standards are recommendations and compliance is recommended, without enforcement. In some cases though, OSHA has adopted ANSI standards as law.
OSHA and ANSI have established severity classifications for safety signs. They each relates directly to the severity of hazards present (or potentially present) and include a set of guidelines regarding components such as the sign colors, symbols, and formats of the signs. OSHA has adopted the ANSI standards for signs. Signs on a construction site should be visible, provide a clear message, and be consistent throughout the entire jobsite.
Danger signs signal the most serious hazards, where special precautions must be taken. The “DANGER” signal word is printed in white letters on a red background and is preceded by the safety alert symbol, which looks like an exclamation point inside a triangle. This type of signage indicates that death or serious injury is almost certain to occur if the hazard is not avoided.
Warning signs describe a hazard that may result in death or serious injury, but where the overall risk is not severe enough to need a danger sign. A safety alert symbol precedes the “WARNING” signal word, which is printed in black on an orange background.
Caution signs describe hazards that may result in minor or moderate injuries if not avoided. These typically caution against unsafe practices. On caution signs, the “CAUTION” signal word is printed in black on a yellow background header and is preceded by the safety alert symbol.
Notice signs are blue signs with white text and are intended to convey other information not related to safety and when there is no hazard present. A “no smoking” sign for instance might be placed on a warning sign if there are flammable liquids, but a blue no smoking sign means the prohibited act is not due to safety reasons.
Safety instruction signs have a green background with white text and are informational in nature but still related to safety. The most common kind of these signs are related to first aid.
OSHA carries hefty penalties for being negligent about safety signage. A Texas Dollar General Store was fined more than $150,000 after failing to meet required standards that included safety signage. Don’t take chances. Work with FASTSIGNS® of Charlotte, NC - Independence Blvd to understand what the regulatory signs are, as well as the OSHA/ANSI requirements for those signs regarding colors, fonts, sizes, symbols, etc.
Safety signage requirements in most cases don’t mandate a particular substrate; It can be on corrugated plastic or banners, a very affordable option, or a thick aluminum if you are looking to use the signs for a long time and reuse it in multiple projects or sites.
Give us a call at (704) 486-5252 or stop by to our center 4845B E Independence Blvd, Charlotte NC 28212