OSHA’s Upcoming Standard’s for ANSI Z535 Safety Signs

OSHA is on the forefront of unveiling a new set of ANSI Z535 safety sign designs to be used in workplaces across the country. They have a distinct look, and it’s notably different than the old, widely recognized traditional signs. For starters, the new signs are a bit more complex. However, this allows them to take on more intricate problems that can commonly manifest in modern workplaces. Let’s take a look at some cases in which you may want to use the new and upcoming ANSI Z535 signs, and some other cases where you might want to simply stick with the traditional design.

Current ANSI Designs

The ANSI Z535 design as it stands is not in huge circulation. Why? Well it is most likely because these signs are generally more text-heavy, and more specialized, meaning that one sign cannot generally be used in a wide variety of situations and applications. This leads to a discussion of cost as well, since it will be more expensive to have to buy a larger range of signs for the same things.

However, their specificity does serve another purpose and that is to make a message more clear and concise. Intrinsic to this, the new sign designs can offer a fair amount of legal coverage in the case of a true accident. Since the new signs reduce arguable ambiguity in what a sign means it makes it easier to comply with safety standards. Older, more general, and more visual sign designs may not offer the semblance of the same kind of clarity. This legal coverage has caused a higher adoption of the ANSI signs in certain industries than in others especially when it comes to transportation, equipment warnings, and electrical utilities.

Because these new signs allow for multiple lines and sizes of text, and headings, they without a doubt increase message clarity.

Potential Problems with Upcoming ANSI Signs

However, there are some cases where the new signs are simply not a better option. One issue is that the signs are largely text dependent, often sporting several times more characters and words than their older counterparts. While this is good for clarity, it does little to help illiterate workers or workers who are unable to read or read a specific language. Additionally, with the incorporation of more information on warning signs, it can lull work training programs into thinking that they don’t need to do quite as much training because the information is already out there, in plain sight, for their workers to read on a daily basis. In addition, there is also the risk that too specific signs will become outdated quickly, such as when a phone number is changed, or something else is adopted as “best practice” in the specific industry. Signs that simply state “danger,” “high voltage,” or “stay out” are likely to never need replacing, well at least not for quite some time.

You be the Judge

Ultimately, it will depend upon the functions you need your signs to serve. In most cases, a balance between the new and old sign designs will best serve many work environments. However, even though the upcoming ANSI signs do serve some beneficial purposes well, others are better left to the simple, straight-forward traditional designs. You be the judge, what are your thoughts on the upcoming, new design changes?

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