Proper Signage and Label Techniques to Combat OHSA’s Top Ten Safety Violations

Each year OSHA gathers all data regarding cited workplace violations and compiles it into a top ten violations list. Although the lists may reflect some similarities in violations year to year, there are still great gains being made towards enhancing workplace safety. Below we have outlined OSHA’s top ten violations of 2012 according to the National Safety Council’s Safety + Health Magazine along with our suggestions on how to combat such violations using the proper signage and label techniques. The order of violations below is based on occurrence.

1. Fall Protection (1926.501) 7,250 Violations

This standard outlines when the need for fall protection is required. The standard states that employees must wear proper fall protection when walking upon or working near areas with an unprotected side edge or any edge if it is six feet or more.

Creative Safety Supply Suggestion:

Place appropriately labeled safety signs in any areas where a fall hazard may be present. These signs will help remind both employees and visitors that the area harbors some potentially unsafe slip or fall hazards and that proper precautions should be taken.

2. Hazard Communication (1910.1200) 4,696 Violations

Communicating the risks of potential hazards that are either produced within or entering a facility is essential to the well-being of employees. All employees must be aware of the risks associated with the hazardous materials, as well how to work safety within an environment that houses these substances.

Creative Safety Supply Suggestion:

First and foremost employees must be trained to understand the risks associated with hazardous materials and how to protect themselves from coming into contact with these types of substances. Next, the use of both hazard safety signs as well as safety labels would be very beneficial in the communication of potential hazards. For instance, if a pipe within the facility carries a hazardous or unsafe substance, the pipe should be clearly and concisely labeled so employees are informed about its contents.

3. Scaffolding (1926.451) 3,814 Violations

This standard communicates that scaffolding should always be designed and constructed by qualified personnel. In addition, it is the responsibility of the employer to protect any employees from falls and/or falling objects while around or using scaffolding that is 10 feet or higher.

Creative Safety Supply Suggestion:

Make sure all employees who work with or around scaffolding are trained specifically to the safety techniques of using such equipment and also about the risks scaffolding my pose. Safety signs should be posted in scaffolding use areas informing employees about the use of scaffolding and/or the potential for falling objects within the scaffolding area.


4. Respiratory Protection (1910.134) 2,371 Violations

This standard states the importance for all employers to provide a respiratory safety program for its employees. This program should include respirator selection, training, cleaning, and use.

Creative Safety Supply Suggestion:

Since respirators provide protection from harmful gases, dusts, fumes they are an essential part of personal protective equipment (PPE). Any area within the business that may potentially expose employees to any inhalant-related risks should have the proper signage warning them of the risks of dangerous inhalants and also mandating the use of respirator equipment while in the area.


5. Ladders (1926.1053) 2.310 Violations

OSHA’s standard regarding ladders covers all needed safety tactics for ladder use within the workplace.

Creative Safety Supply Suggestion:

Ladders can be very helpful tools when on a job site; they allow people to reach things that may not be possible to reach otherwise. However, since ladders do allow employees to elevate themselves to potentially unsafe heights, it is important to covey the risk of falls. Safety signs regarding ladders and the importance of using both hands while climbing on a ladder should posted in that ladder area.


6. Machine Guarding (1910.212) 2,097 Violations

This safety standard is in place to help protect machine operators as well as other employees from the risks associated with machine operation. Some machine risks include dangerous nip points and rotating parts and may also cause sparks or harbor flying chips.

Creative Safety Supply Suggestion:

Post visible signs on or near unsafe components of machinery. Most machines do feature safety guards and shields to protect operators from injury; however, if safety messages are not posted on how to clearly understand the safety mechanisms and how they function, the general safety of employees could be jeopardized. Machine training in conjunction with reminder safety signs near the machine guards will help to keep all machines safer for employee operation.


7. Powered Industrial Trucks (1910.178) 1,993 Violations

All employees who are authorized to operate powered industrial trucks such as forklifts and motorized hand trucks should be trained on the proper use and safety requirements with each truck being operated. This standard covers the design, maintenance, and operation of powered trucks.

Creative Safety Supply Suggestion:

In order to provide protection to all employees and visitors within a workplace that utilizes powered industrial trucks, proper floor markings should be posted anywhere powered trucks are in use. For example, yellow floor marking tape may be used to outline the general path of forklifts within a warehouse. Employees would then need to be informed that the use of yellow floor tape indicates caution and that it signifies a forklift transport zone.


8. Electrical – Wiring Methods (1910.305) 1,744 Violations

This standard includes the need for adequate grounding on electrical equipment. Electrical wirings even if temporary should be grounded to protect employees against electrical-related injury.

Creative Safety Supply Suggestion:

Electrical safety signs are imperative in any area that poses an electrical related risk. Signs that are posted should be as informative and as concise as possible so employees understand what the risks are in that area. One basic sign for all electrical risks is not nearly as beneficial as different signs that narrow down the risk based on the actual electrical risk posed. The signs should also outline the best avoidance procedures on how to keep safe.


9. Lockout/Tagout (1910.147) 1,572 Violations

This standard is similar to the electrical wiring standard in that it includes performance requirements that must be taken into consideration when there is the risk for exposure to hazardous energy. This risk is usually most apparent during the maintenance checks for different types of equipment.

Creative Safety Supply Suggestion:

One of the first steps to combat this violation would be to make sure that employees receive adequate training regarding the safety practices of different types of repair whether it is for machine repair or something that deals strictly with electrical repair. Next, the need for appropriate safety signage is also a good way to combat potential injuries. Lockout/tagout signs should be posted in areas that are being serviced so employees are informed of the risks.


10. Electrical (1910.303) 1,332 Violations

Lastly, this standard is basically an umbrella standard that really covers the majority of electrical-related practices and outlines safety tactics that need to be in place when working with and designing electrical systems.

Creative Safety Supply Suggestion:

As with all electrical-related hazards the need for clear signage is essential. Electrical hazards are not something to be taken lightly, as seen with a few other OSHA violations on this list. Electricity can endanger people quickly and drastically and not knowing the risks of electrical dangers in a work area should not be tolerated. All employees and visitors should be able to quickly discern if an area within a facility poses electrical risk or not through proper electrical signage.

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