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OSHA & ANSI Sign Classification Table

dateSeptember 12, 2023

Standards, protocols and regulations in every development, keeps the whole system in position. And therefore, these standards must be given priority especially when they are life saving instructions to the organizations. Here we talk about two such important standards where one is a regulatory body, approved by the government; whereas the other is a consensus based standard because they are written and approved upon by the members across the entire applicable industry: manufacturers, end users, testing laboratories, etc.

Founded in the year 1918, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting “voluntary consensus standards.” Those three words, “voluntary”, “consensus” and “standards” briefly describe the documents that ANSI produces.

Precisely speaking, ANSI itself does not develop standards. Instead, ANSI develops and administers the procedures by which other organizations can create the actual standards. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a governmental agency that was created by Congress in 1971 as a subset of the Department of Labor. Contrary to ANSI, OSHA’s mission is to assure safe working conditions for employees by “setting and enforcing standards”. This enforcement aspect of OSHA is its primary distinction from ANSI. Many OSHA regulations address similar topics as ANSI standards (e.g. fall protection), but where ANSI standards are voluntary, OSHA regulations are law.

ANSI standards, however, can be adopted by OSHA and become law in two primary ways. Explicitly, OSHA can reference specific ANSI standards in OSHA regulations. This is referred to as “incorporation by reference”. Implicitly, OSHA can require adherence to ANSI standards through the General Duty Clause, which states, “Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees’ employment and a place of employment which are free from recognized hazards…” This clause allows OSHA to cite employers for hazardous conditions that are not directly addressed by OSHA, but are addressed by other industry standards.

The table above represents the basic standards of both OSHA and ANSI in reference to Tag signs.

Compliance tags help to meet OSHA requirements of Lockout Tagout. These tags feature OSHA headers with ‘Danger’ ‘Caution’ and ‘Warning’ options. Accident prevention and maintenance tags also improve safety and monitor production status. Industrial tags are made of high performance, durable materials that can withstand harsh environments - both indoors and outdoors. They can be used for hazard warnings, valve identification, equipment instructions, accident prevention and more. They provide fast and easy identification for a variety of areas throughout the facility.

The OSHA Standard 1910.147 (c)(5)(ii) specifies certain requirements of lockout Tagout devices, i.e. The device must be durable, Standardized, Substantial and Identifiable.

In paragraph 1910.147(c)(5)(iii), OSHA requires that the major message printed on the tag “warn against hazardous condition of the equipment is re-energized. Five examples of acceptable warnings are provided, including Do Not Start. Do Not Open. Do Not Close. Do Not Energize. Do Not Operate. In all cases, employees must know and understand the meaning of the Tag.

Both OSHA and ANSI standards focuses on the importance of Tag signs that are momentous for the improvement of Lockout Tagout safety in every industry.

The classifications as mentioned in the table above:

Danger Tags

In case of both OSHA and ANSI signifies the hazard situations where an immediate hazard presents a threat of death or serious injury to employees.

Danger tags come in many colors and variations depending on where they need to be used. According to Safety Sign, these tags exist for inventory check, electrical hazards, equipment status and inspections.

Each category also has a subset of tags that provides even more specific information for management and workers. 

Warning Tags

Specifies the warning to the upcoming danger that it can cause. In both OSHA as well as ANSI standards, warning tags have specific importance, as the message itself predicts the amount of danger that the operation can cause to the worker.

Caution Tags

Caution tags are similar to the warning tags but these tags shall be used in minor hazard situations where a non-immediate or potential hazard or unsafe practice presents a lesser threat of employee injury.

The other Tags include Notice, Safety, Stop, Biohazard which are again used specifically for keeping the worker safe and away from any risk that can cause harm to him if not taken care.

These color codings usually indicate the following:

  • Red- indicates (1) danger, (2) stop or (3) presence of fire protection equipment.
  • Orange- marks the dangerous parts of machines or energized equipment which may cut, crush, shock or injure employees. Orange emphasizes these hazards when the guards or enclosures around them are open.
  • Yellow- warns of physical hazards and means caution. A striped or checkered pattern of yellow and black may be used to help attract attention.
  • Blue- denotes caution and its use is restricted to marking out-of-service equipment which should not be used.
  • Green- indicates either the location of safety equipment such as first aid materials or conveys safety information.
  • Purple- used for radiation hazards. It may contain a combination of purple and yellow.
  • Black & White- or a combination of the two are used to designate traffic and housekeeping markings. Stripes, checkers or other variations are often used.

Every Organization must take proper steps to stay in compliance with the Lockout Tagout Standards, policies and procedures. The consequences of not being in compliance with safety regulations are drastic. A safe operation minimizes downtime, which offers the least possible interruption in business.

E-Square Compliance and Education Division
About the Author

E-Square Compliance and Education Division

A team of safety professionals and educators united to enhance workplace safety with essential Lockout Tagout knowledge. We offer expertise to foster safety compliance and effective LOTO protocols across industries.

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