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Why do we need safety signs when cleaning on site?

Safety signs are everywhere; in the workplace, construction sites and public spaces just to name a few. They act as an essential warning of any dangers that are up ahead and prevent potentially fatal injuries. To create a safe environment in the workplace or any area when you are cleaning or have just cleaned, it is the employer’s obligation to provide safety signs that comply with both OSHA and ANSI standards, to prevent injury and keep everyone within the premises safe.

HSE figures1 revealed that there were 555,000 estimated non-fatal injuries to workers according to self-reports, and 71,062 non-fatal injuries reported to employers in 2017/18, with these injuries resulting in 135,000 workers taking over seven days of absence. While not all these injuries would have been caused by the absence of safety signs, it is possible that many people could have prevented a fall or slip if safety signs were always present when required, highlighting their importance.

But why are safety signs needed when cleaning?
Cleaning is imperative in all places where there are people, germs and the distribution of new germs day to day, in order to keep an area as clean as possible and to prevent illness. When cleaning an area or room, it is important to place signage clearly around the area to warn those around and passing that they should be cautious.

It’s reported that a slip, trip or fall occurs every 3 minutes in the EU2, with pay-outs known to exceed £500 million a year from wet surfaces alone. To prevent trips and falls on wet areas after cleaning, safety signs such as ‘caution’ signs are imperative – however OSHA requirements state that certain words must be used on the sign, such as ‘danger’, ‘caution’ and ‘safety’. Once the cleaned area is safe for pedestrian use, wet floor signs should be removed immediately, as signs can often lose their effectiveness if not removed when no longer needed.

If strong chemicals are being used during a clean, the correct safety signs should be placed clearly in front of the area to prevent passers-by encountering fumes or any direct contact on their skin. Whilst storing cleaning products and industrial chemicals, ensure that the storage is correctly labelled with signs such as ‘warning – cleaning chemicals’ and ‘cleaning materials stored inside’ to warn others of potential harm from specific products.

Safety signs are available in a variety of different materials to suit the environment that you’re working in, from fiberglass and plastic to aluminium. Safety signs and stickers are made to be durable, easily visible and high-quality, to ensure the safety of others but making them as clear as possible to passers-by.

An array of safety signs from Reece Safety are available to safely and correctly show when there are hazards present or a warning needed; correct use of safety signs will keep yourself and others safe.

[1] http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causinj/index.htm

[1] https://direct2u.co.uk/blog/safety/the-importance-of-cleaning-signage/#:~:targetText=The%20sign’s%20purpose%20is%20to,signs%20should%20be%20removed%20immediately.

About Sarah OBeirne

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