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Accident Prevention Signs and Tags


October 2003
DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 2004-101
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Self-Inspection Checklist

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This checklist covers the regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor – OSHA under the General Industry standards 29 CFR 1910.144 and 1910.145 and the Construction standards 1926.200. It applies to all safety signs except those designed for streets, highways, railroads and marine regulations. It does not apply to bulletin boards or safety posters. The regulations cited only apply to private employers and their employees, unless adopted by a state agency and applied to other groups such as public employees.

  1. Safety Colors for Marking Physical Hazards

  2. Are safety cans and other cans which contain flammable liquids painted red, with the contents labeled conspicuously in yellow? [29 CFR 1910.144(a)(1)(ii)]
  3. Are all emergency stop bars and buttons and electrical switches marked with red paint? [29 CFR 1910.144(a)(1)(iii)]
  4. Is yellow used to advise caution? For example, against physical hazards such as stumbling, falling, tripping, striking against something or being caught in between two things? [29 CFR 1910.144(a)(3)]

    Classification of Signs According to Use

  5. Are danger signs used only where an immediate hazard exists? [29 CFR 1910.145(c)(1)(ii) and 1926.200(b)(1)]
  6. Are caution signs used only where potential hazards or unsafe practices could exist? [29 CFR 1910.145(c)(2)(i) and 1926.200(c)(1)]
  7. Have all students and teachers been instructed that danger signs indicate immediate danger, caution signs indicate a possible hazard, and preventative measures are advised whenever either sign is observed? [29 CFR 1910.145(c)(1)(ii) and (2)(ii)]
  8. Are safety instruction signs used wherever safety instructions or reminders are needed? [29 CFR 1910.145(c)(3)]Note: The entrance to all shops, laboratories, or other areas which require industrial quality eye protection must be posted with a sign indicating the requirement. In addition, machines, equipment, or process areas requiring operators to wear specific eye protection should be posted with warning signs.

    Sign Design

  9. Do signs have rounded corners, free from sharp edges, burrs, splinters, or other sharp projections? [29 CFR 1910.145(d)(1)]
  10. Are the ends or heads of bolts or other fastening devices attached in such a way that they do not constitute a hazard? [29 CFR 1910.145(d)(1)]
  11. Are danger signs red, black, and white? [29 CFR 1910.144(a)(1)(ii), 1910.145(d)(2), and 1926.200(b)(2)]
  12. Do caution signs have a yellow background (with black lettering) and a black panel (with yellow lettering)? [29 CFR 1910.145(d)(4) and 1926.200(c)(2)and(3)]
  13. Do safety instruction signs have a white background (with black lettering) and a green panel (with white lettering)? [29 CFR 1910.145(d)(6) and 1926.200(e)]

    Accident Prevention Tags

  14. Are accident prevention tags used to alert people to hazards which are temporary, out of the ordinary, unexpected or not readily apparent? [29 CFR 1910.145(f)(3) and 1926.200(h)(1)]
  15. Do required tags have a signal word of either Danger, Caution, Biological Hazard, BIOHAZARD, or the biological hazard symbol? [29 CFR 1910.145(f)(4)(i)(A)]
  16. Do required tags define the specific hazardous condition or the instruction to be communicated, either in words, or pictures, or both? [29 CFR 1910.145(f)(4)(i)(B) and (f)(4)(iii)]
  17. Are signal words readable from a distance of at least five feet, or further if the hazard warrants it? [29 CFR 1910.145(f)(4)(ii)]
  18. Is the tag’s signal word and major message understandable to everyone who may be exposed to the hazard? [29 CFR 1910.145(f)(4)(iv)]
  19. Has everyone been told what various tags mean and what special precautions are necessary? [29 CFR 1910.145(f)(4)(v)]
  20. Are tags affixed as close as safely possible to their respective hazards and in a way that prevents their loss or unintentional removal ( for example, with string, wire, or adhesive? [29 CFR 1910.145(f)(4)(vi)]
  21. Are danger tags used only in situations where an immediate hazard presents a threat of death or serious injury? [29 CFR 1910.145(f)(5)]
  22. Are caution tags used only in situations where a non-immediate or potential hazard or unsafe practice presents a minor threat? [29 CFR 1910.145(f)(6)]
  23. Are warning tags used to represent a hazard level between caution and danger? [29 CFR 1910.145(f)(7)]
  24. Are biological hazard tags used to identify equipment, containers, rooms, and experimental animals (or combinations thereof) that may include a hazardous biological agent? [29 CFR 1910.145(f)(8)(i)]