When physical hazards in a workplace cannot be eliminated completely, personal protective equipment (PPE) must be used to provide additional protection against injuries and illnesses. These devices and safety clothing are another line of defense against dangerous situations, and as a result, are a large part of a facility’s safety plan.
Visual cues, such as floor signs and tape, can reinforce safety protocols and provide valuable reminders of PPE requirements to prevent physical injuries, such as hearing damage, pinching or crushing, and cuts and scrapes, and make sure your workplace is in compliance with OSHA regulations to reduce costly injuries and fines.
OSHA’s general requirements (1910.132¹) state that protective equipment shall be provided, used, and maintained wherever hazards may cause injury or impairment. Staff who are required (per the presence of hazards) to use PPE in the workplace must be trained on the following aspects, according to OSHA standards:
- When protective equipment is necessary
- What protective gear or equipment is required
- How to properly wear and remove PPE
- The limitations of the equipment
- Proper care, maintenance, and disposal of PPE
Visual Cues to Communicate When PPE Is Necessary
Employees must be notified when PPE equipment is required, and highly visible safety floor signs and tape are efficient means of reinforcement. These durable, easy-to-install visuals provide PPE messaging anywhere you need, including concrete and polished floors or carpeted areas. Choose the sign material best-suited for your workplace and traffic level so your safety markings last.
PPE Safety Signs
Label entrances to areas where goggles, hand protection, steel toe boots, or other safety devices are necessary with PPE floor signs. Use signage with prohibited symbols and language, such as No Open Shoes or No Lab Coats, to cue to visitors or workers that certain attire isn’t allowed and may leave them vulnerable to physical injuries. Placing durable signage directly in walkways and entrances reduces the chances the PPE requirements will be missed. If requirements change, our floor signs peel up without leaving a mark, yet last as long as you need.
Mandatory PPE Marking Tapes
In a warehouse or factory with an open layout, floor tape can create visual barriers designating areas with PPE requirements. Choose our repeating message tape or request a custom design to easily communicate devices, garments, or equipment needed for entry. Having specific information or directives printed on each boundary line keeps employees aware of requirements no matter which direction they are entering from.
Properly Labeled Safety Data Information Stations
Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are a resource for employees to identify when PPE is necessary. If an emergency situation should arise, such as a chemical spill, workers rely on the SDS binders to quickly identify the hazard and know which protective equipment—aprons, gloves, or respirators—is needed. While staff are required to know the location of these binders, SDS Signage is a visual cue that can speed up response times to prevent improper handling and physical injuries.
Visual Cues for What Equipment Is Required
Personal protective equipment, such as welding glasses, lab coats, and steel toe boots, are designed to combat specific hazards, and in order to comply with OSHA regulations, the clothing or devices used must meet or exceed protection and construction guidelines set forth by American National Standards Institute (ANSI). These regulations are in place to prevent a welder from using safety goggles instead of a heat-resistant shield, for example.
To make sure workers know which equipment is required, your safety signs should be specific, concise, and clear. Signs with recognizable PPE symbols help eliminate confusion to keep your employees safe and your workplace compliant with OSHA and ANSI standards. Design your own custom floor signs and tape to provide specific direction or select from our inventory of PPE floor signs. You’ll find safety equipment signs to cover all of these major categories:
Eye & Face Protection
In accordance with OSHA Personal Protective Equipment Standards², employers must make sure every employee uses proper eye and/or face protection in areas where hazards are present. Post Safety Glasses Required PPE signs that feature symbols for goggles, face shields, and masks to help clearly indicate specific equipment needs. Select from our inventory of signs or create your own custom-printed visuals to enforce PPE rules for when to wear safety goggles or glasses to prevent flying particles, chemical splashes, gasses, or other dangers from causing injury or blindness.
Per OSHA and ANSI regulations for head protection³, employees must wear a protective helmet when working in areas where there is a potential for falling objects. Place safety helmet signs directly in employee walkways where overhead dangers exist so they are not missed or seen too late. If protective equipment includes standard hard hats or those that reduce electrical shocks, the helmet signs and training should be clear about which type of protection will provide adequate coverage. If you have trouble finding signage to match your facility, use our custom sign tool to design specific visual cues with symbols and text to make sure a hair net isn’t confused with a helmet.
Foot & Leg Protection
OSHA 1910.136⁴ states that employees must use protective footwear when working in locations that contain falling or rolling objects, where items may pierce the boot/shoe sole, or where electrical hazards such as a static-discharge or shock are possible. Signage alerting employees to foot and leg PPE requirements should be placed at the entrance to the area to immediately alert them to areas where impact- or compression-resistant, and electric-hazard resistant footwear is needed. Our custom sign design tool includes a variety of PPE symbols to create accurate foot protection visuals indicating metal-studded footwear, outdoor footwear, boots, and other gear.
Hand & Arm Protection
Requiring the use of appropriate hand protection according to OSHA 1910.138⁵ standard can prevent chemical or thermal burns, harm caused by substances, wounds such as cuts, abrasions, and punctures, plus amputations. The construction and style of hand protection is not specified by ANSI, so employers should be diligent in choosing and communicating which equipment will provide an appropriate level of protection. Select from our inventory of PPE clothing and glove signs to reinforce safety protocols, or create your own visual cues using our custom design tool. A combination of PPE and hazard symbols (i.e. electrical, radiation, chemical, biohazard) can be used to indicate how to mitigate specific risks.
Hand & Body Protection
The OSHA standard for hand and body protection⁶ is similar to those for Hand and Arm Protection, including clothing and equipment to protect against thermal dangers and physical hazards. Protective clothing signs showing aprons, lab coats, and hi-vis vests will alert employees to what garments are needed where. The standard also forbids certain garments from entering hazardous areas. An employee wearing a jumpsuit covered in flammable oil near a welding station would be an example of non-compliance of this standard. PPE signs with prohibited symbols or floor tape with direct language, such as No Soiled Aprons Beyond This Point are ideal notifications and can be customized using our design tool to fit any situation.
When employees are subjected to a certain noise level, OSHA standard 1910.95⁷ states that protection should be provided. Rather than making staff guess what decibel an environment is reaching, post ear protection required signs where the noise exceeds—or even approaches—the minimum tolerance. Because noise-level monitoring must be completed whenever a process or equipment changes, having signage in place makes sure everyone is up-to-date on PPE requirements. Our rubber and vinyl floor signs are ideal choices for hearing protection signs because they are easy to remove and quick to install when noise decibels change.
Signage for Proper Care & Disposal of PPE
Organizing your safety equipment and labeling storage areas with 5S floor signs makes it easy for employees to follow protocols for proper care, maintenance, and disposal of PPE in accordance with OSHA standards1. Signage can label PPE locations for inventory, trash/scrap, soiled/laundry, or any other useful status. Staff can easily inspect and sort equipment into each bin to communicate when something needs cleaning, is defective, or is ready to use. Using floor signs to mark staging for carts or trash means the bins can be collected and returned to the correct locations without being misplaced or confused.
How to Enforce Employee Compliance with PPE
Having all the proper signage and training in place are great first steps to achieving 100% compliance on PPE requirements, but there are a few ways you can reinforce your procedures to keep employees diligent. Here are some ways to improve employees’ engagement in safety measures regarding PPE:
- Lead by example—management should never wear less than what is required.
- Follow OSHA training requirements for PPE and inquire with your insurance agency about additional training or information sessions.
- Open a dialogue to hear complaints, ideas, and input about PPE from employees to increase their investment in the program.
- Choose equipment that is easy to put on, take off, and sanitize.
- Store equipment in accessible, labeled locations where it won’t be missed or confused.
Physical hazards are everywhere in industrial environments, but with the right PPE procedures, you can protect employees from injuries and accidents. Learn more about how to reduce physical hazards in the workplace and ways to make safety improvements in our Resource Center.
²https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1918/1918.101 eye and face