How Can Effective Safety Signs Save Lives?

I’ve heard it said that safety signs are ineffective at changing people’s behavior, that nobody reads warnings anyway, and that the only reason safety signs are posted is because OSHA compliance mandates them. A similar argument was made for on-product safety labels 20 years ago; nobody pays attention to them and they’re only a protective measure by management to avoid product liability lawsuits.

My answer to the product safety label “effectiveness” question leads to the answer to the safety signs question I started with, above. And that is this: the proof is in the pudding. Quite possibly Clarion is the only company that can answer this question of the effectiveness of safety signs and labels. We have 25 years’ worth of data and experience that says this: if safety signs and labels are intelligently developed as a “system” of signs or a “system” of product safety labels – and that system uses the latest best practice standards in their design, combined with a well thought out understanding of the hazards and how to avoid them – the system works. And we can say this because, with over 50 million safety signs and labels produced over the past two decades, we have yet to hear from one of our thousands of clients of an accident that occurred because of a “failure to warn” or “inadequate warning.”

The problem with the vast majority of today’s facility safety signs is that they are not designed according to the latest best practice standards (standards that have been in place now for ten years), and they were not designed to work together as part of an intelligently designed “system” of signs. Instead, they are typically a hodge-podge of signs that meet 1941-era design standards and they were posted over a period of time. Such signs will never be considered state-of-the-art, and as such, they don’t have the ability to do the best job possible to effectively communicate safety so people avoid accidents, accidents that could result in tragedy.

In contrast, the new safety sign systems use graphical symbols and sign formats that meet the latest design standards and are developed to work together, in a unified way, to convey safety effectively. In short, that’s the goal. And, working directly with our customers, that’s what Clarion does.

Geoffrey Peckham
CEO, Clarion Safety Systems

This blog is part of a series of regular posts from our CEO, Geoffrey Peckham, to share his insight. Geoffrey serves as chair of the ANSI Z535 Committee for Safety Signs and Colors and chair of the U.S. TAG to ISO/TC 145 – Graphical Symbols. He has also been selected as a member of the U.S. TAG to ISO/PC 283, an ISO committee writing a new standard, ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, which will, when finished, define global best practices for workplace safety. In addition, he is an active member of many industry-specific standards committees related to safety signs and labels for buildings, ships, machinery and products.