If a workspace contains hazardous permit-required spaces, OSHA mandates the employer must inform exposed employees of their existence, location, and the hazards they pose. This can be done by posting unambiguous warning signs such as "DANGER-CONFINED SPACE- AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY."
And while signs like that are pretty clear, there will still be folks who assume it doesn't apply to them. So OSHA also requires physical barriers such as locks, chains, and other impediments to entry. Signs aren't going to stop everyone from entering, but they are one step in an overall plan for keeping workers safe.
One problem with confined space signs is that they can degrade over time. They might corrode even in fairly benign atmospheres, or the paint or printing may fade. Just because you put signs up in 1975 doesn't mean they are still readable today. As a facility grows, or safety programs change, additional signs will likely be required. The signs we offer at Confined Space are made from a variety of materials - vinyl stickers, aluminum, plastic, magnetic.
The type of confined space you are attempting to define and warn workers and others about will determine the best type of sign for you. Is it metal? Would a magnetic sign work for this space? You don't want to have a sign easily removed if the danger is permanent. Will vinyl sticker signs suffice? They are the least expensive, but also have a greater propensity to peel and crack over the years, especially if they are exposed to direct sunlight. Aluminum safety signs deliver enduring characteristics such as corrosion resistance, and may be best for a long-term solution.
In addition to the signs that go next to confined space entry points, any Permit-Required Confined Space (PRCS) that requires regularly scheduled entry should also have a confined space permit holder board. This is simply a handy place to put your permits so everyone in the area can see the scope of the work to be completed, as well as the time required, and who is in charge of the work.
The important thing to remember as far as confined space entry signs are concerned is to keep them as up-to-date as your confined space entry program. If new spaces are determined to be PRCS, if the site expands, or if new equipment is installed, or the facility changes, your site safety plan needs to change too. Your signage requirements grow as your business grows in most cases. In fact, any time new equipment is purchased, it's a great time to review your safety program as a whole, and your confined space entry procedures in particular.
Help keep your workers safe by taking a look at your confined space entry signs, and make sure they are legible, and posted everywhere they need to be. If you have questions about what you need, or where you need it, please give us a call at 800-829-9580 or contact us online at PkSafety.com. Thanks for reading.