A visual workplace is one where information related to safety, rules, instructions, machines and other commonly asked questions is communicated through visuals like signs, labels, and “posters. Visual cues allow workers to easily see and understand what they need to do in many situations without needing to stop and ask questions. This type of workplace is often very efficient. Time isn’t wasted and employees feel more confident about the tasks they need to perform.
Safety signs and labels play key roles in a visual workplace and they can be very useful in busy industrial workplaces where employees are performing many different tasks simultaneously. Some uses for signs and labels may seem obvious, but many less obvious uses can still be very valuable. Think about where employees in your facility might ask questions and whether a sign or label could help clarify confusion.
Where to Put Signs and Labels
To help you get started creating a visual workplace, we’ll take a look at 10 places safety signs and labels can be installed. Consider the following locations:
- Machines – Have dangerous machines? Label them to communicate information about hazards. This can typically be done with a “Warning” or “Caution” label that includes basic text and images. Labels on machines can also convey instructions for operation.
- Vehicles – Forklifts and other industrial vehicles are machines, too, so they’re also worthy of labels. These labels can convey information about hazards or perhaps include a list of pre-operation checks to make to ensure the vehicle is in good working order.
- Intersections – When vehicles and pedestrians cross paths, accidents can occur. Post signs that both drivers and workers on foot can see to help prevent collisions.
- The Floor – People often look up when they walk, so many safety signs are placed at eye level. Signs and labels can also be placed on the floor where a hazard exists, though. In some cases, this is the most appropriate place for a sign; in a large workspace, a sign on the wall might be too far away to be read easily.
- Emergency Equipment – Labels pointing workers to emergency equipment like fire extinguishers and eyewash stations are a must.
- Shelves – Shelves and other storage areas can be labeled for organizational purposes, but they can also be labeled for safety. Some shelves, for example, might only be able to hold a certain weight or quantity of materials. Employees need to be reminded about this pertinent information when and where they need it.
- Exit Routes – This probably comes as no surprise, but safety signs and labels should be used to mark exit routes, too. Employees may be very familiar with these routes, but visitors or temporary workers may not be.
- Tools – Labeling tools can be a handy way to make sure a tool finds its way back to the appropriate storage area after use. These labels can also convey information about hazards, which is especially applicable for power tools.
- Entrances & Exits – It’s true that marking entrances and exits is helpful—workers won’t need to ask simple questions about where to go—but these locations can also be used to remind workers what kinds of PPE they might need to be wearing to enter an area or what they need to remove before leaving an area. Signs can also warn that an area has restricted access.
- Power Sources – When electricity is present, dangers can exist. Labels alerting employees to areas of high voltage that may require special training or PPE to access are a commonsense way to achieve electrical safety.
Make Labels Yourself
Many pre-made signs and Industrial label printers are available for purchase, but it’s often easier and more cost-effective to print these visuals yourself when you need them. Industrial label printers can help you do so, so take a look and see if one of these tools might make a good addition to your workplace.