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National Safety Month: Custom Signage to Combat Workplace Hazards

13 May, 2024

Worker walking down a large cranes stairs holding the railing.


When we think about workplace accidents, it’s hard not to think about the most dramatic, worst-case scenarios like fires, amputations, or forklift hazards. However, workplace slips, trips, and falls should be added to the list as they are the third leading cause of workplace safety hazards, often resulting in death or serious injury.  

The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported in the 2021-2022 calendar year 674,100 cases related to workplace slips, trips, and falls injuries and 700 of those resulted in death.   

What Can Result in a Slip, Trip, or Fall Injury?  

Many factors can contribute to the likelihood of a slip, trip, or fall. Footwear and environmental factors are a couple of the main contributors to these types of workplace hazards. Here is a list of incidents where a hazard may result in a slip, trip, or fall: 

  • Water, ice, snow, mud, grease, oil
  • Loose or irregular surfaces like gravel or unanchored flooring  
  • Sloped walking surfaces without slip- or skid-resistance  
  • Uncovered hoses, cables, wires, or cords across walking surfaces 
  • Unmarked steps or ramps 
  • Thresholds, gaps, and other irregularities in walking surfaces 
  • Speed bumps and curb drops 

The Occupational Health and Safety (OSHA) standard for slip, trip, and fall hazards in a General Industry, defined as all industries not included in agriculture, construction or maritime, Walking-Working Surface standard (29 CFR 1910 Subpart D). 

A walking-working surface is defined as any horizontal or vertical surface on or through which an employee walks, works, or gains access to a work area or workplace location. OSHA’s standard requires employers to identify and evaluate slip, trip, and fall hazards and provide proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and training to employees so they can recognize the hazards and minimize their occurrence.  

How Can Trips, Slips, and Falls be Prevented in the Workplace?  

Worker on a scaffold with PPE and fall prevention harness.A lot of slip, trip, and fall prevention relies on the ability of your workforce to recognize where these hazards are found and know how to use safe work practices to minimize their risk. 

OSHA currently does not have a formal requirement for training on slips, trips, and falls, however, workers need to receive some type of training and reoccurring refreshers in OSHA regulations to be able to decrease the occurrence of these types of incidents in their workplace.  

One of the easiest and most effective ways to keep the workforce fresh on this topic is to craft a training plan where employees can learn: 

  • OSHA’s regulations for walking/working surfaces 
  • Slips, trips, and falls and what causes them 
  • How to avoid slips, trips, and falls in the workplace 

The amount of training can be done at the worker’s own pace or in a more formal setting. Once training is set up, visual communication can help retain the information.  

How Can Visual Communication Be a Preventative Method for Workplace Safety?  

Most workplace accidents are preventable, including accidents that involve slips, trips, and falls. Most of these types of incidents are caused by obstructions in walkways, while the rest are a result of uneven surfaces.  

Preventing these accidents is often simple and cost-effective. Many visual communication methods can reinforce safety training in any work environment.  Here are some visual communication methods that can work in any facility: 

  • Floor marking

    — Floor marking can act as a visual guide to not only workers but visitors too by defining safe pathways. Brightly colored floor markings can highlight walkways, emergency exits, and other areas where caution may be needed.  Clearly marked walking paths and equipment zones ensure safe movement and prevent slips, trips, and falls. For instance, directional floor tape can guide workers safely around obstacles, reducing the risk of a safety hazard. 
  • Signage

    — Signs can provide clear instructions and warnings to workers of any hazard present in their environment. For instance, “Watch Your Step” signs remind workers to be mindful of uneven surfaces.  
  • Labels

    — Labels can be effective in the workplace by clearly identifying hazards and providing clear instructions for how to avoid them. For example, labels on chemical containers can warn workers about slippery substances, while labels on equipment can notify workers about proper usage and maintenance procedures. Labels can also be used in areas with low visibility to light, such as stairwells.  

Custom signage can be extremely effective in the prevention of workplace hazards, as it can be tailored to any environment or facility. By creating custom signage that addresses the unique risks of any given workplace, employers can effectively communicate safety information to workers and visitors. 

Customizing signs allows for more flexibility in the design and can enhance visibility more effectively than generic signs. Graphics, colors, and language can be incorporated to meet safety needs. They can be more than just informational but created to follow OSHA and other regulatory requirements too.  


DuraLabel Resources  

Visual communication plays a vital role in preventing workplace trips, slips, and falls by offering clear guidance to employees and visitors. Whether through custom signage, floor marking, or labels, visual cues are effective at highlighting hazards, defining safe pathways, and reinforcing safety protocols.  

Employers can use visual communication to enhance awareness, and promote safer work practices, which ultimately means safer work environments for everyone. The effectiveness of visual communication depends on a few factors such as its relevance to the present hazards, visibility and clarity, and the consistency of how it has been implemented throughout the facility.  Investing in visual communication strategies not only reduces the risk of accidents but fosters a culture of safety and accountability.  

DuraLabel’s free OSHA Signs Instant Action Guide helps create OSHA/ANSI compliant safety signs, quick access to facility needs with a site inspection checklist, as well as choose the correct sign header with a simple flow chart. Get help crafting a system that will provide the safe communication you need. Call 1-888-326-9244 and one of our experts will guide you through the process. 

Learn more about floor marking with DuraLabel’s free Floor Marking Instant Action Guide. It helps employers make strategic decisions about how they want to create safe pathways for pedestrians and vehicular traffic, guides workers to the tools they need, as well as reduces confusion, and improves efficiency. 

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