Damage-Free Sign Labels for Industrial Use
Sign labels that can be printed with laser or ink jet printers in minutes and removed cleanly from most surfaces serve to notify, instruct, and even protect personnel in just about every area in a facility
Throughout industrial plants and warehouses, signs are posted virtually everywhere from the production floor and inside the warehouse to staff offices, conference rooms and even the break room. In most facilities, there is virtually no room or area spared from these notifications, instructions, or warnings, whether informal or mandated by law.
Signs are used in multiple ways throughout industrial facilities. In lean manufacturing, signs are often used to establish operating instructions, procedures, processes, checklists and scheduling. In HR, signs give notice, rules, and reminders to personnel. In offices, signs are used to identify locations, prohibit smoking, and request visitor sign in. In break rooms, signs spell out refrigerator rules and remind staff to keep the premises clean.
Because many of these signs are located in industrial environments and not in pristine commercial offices, the sheets of paper, cardstock, sheet protectors, laminated sheets, and posters used must stand up to a harsher environment.
This is where the problem lies. Since many of the options used for ad hoc signs are not designed specifically for industrial spaces, they are not resistant to the moisture, chemicals, greases, etc. often found in such environments. As a result, they are damaged easily and must be replaced frequently.
Many signs can also cause considerable damage to the underlying surfaces when taped, tacked, nailed, or screwed to walls, glass, or equipment. Sign removal can also leave behind unsightly residual tape or adhesive. This is exacerbated when signs include information that is regularly updated or changed.
The ideal solution would be signage that is easy to install, durable enough to endure harsh conditions, yet comes off easily when necessary, leaving no trace.
Industrial labels used as signage must be more durable than those used in an office, but also should remove cleanly when they need to come down. The key to accomplishing this was developing an adhesive that holds well but can be removed when needed. Achieving that balance is harder than it sounds.
As the result of this effort, new Surface Safe Sign Labels have an exclusive and proprietary construction specially engineered to stick securely yet remove cleanly without damage or residue from painted walls, doors, windows, and other interior surfaces. These "labels used as signs" are made of durable, industrial-grade material that resists water, chemicals, and even abrasion. Available in a variety of sizes, they print easily on standard laser or inkjet printers, opening a world of possibilities for custom, do-it-yourself signs.
Unlike standard office labels with a paper substrate, the topcoat of the industrial sign labels is waterproof and chemical resistant, while its polyester substrate is a durable, scuff- and tear-resistant film. These qualities are ideal for safety-related signage mandated by regulation or required by company policy.
For instance, facility managers and safety officers or engineers will want signs compliant with OSHA 1910.145 (Specifications for Accident Prevention Signs and Tags) and ANSI Z535.4 (Product Safety Signs and Labels).
Although standardized safety signs can be purchased out of catalogues, there is often a need to modify or customize mandated signage as conditions or formats change. On-demand printing solutions have traditionally required a large up-front investment of thousands of dollars, including a specialized sign and label printer, software, labels, and ribbons.
In response, industry innovators have developed a simplified, flexible approach using standard laser and ink jet printers. Online design and print software is available that enables customizable printing utilizing OSHA/ANSI compliant templates.
Employees can create and print their own informal, official, or compliant labels from pre-designed templates or create them step-by-step on demand at their desk. Most employees find the process intuitive, since it resembles creating an office document from pre-designed templates.
With all the signage used throughout an industrial setting, the ability to conveniently print new sign labels in minutes and cleanly remove the old will go a long way toward keeping the whole facility safely up to date without the hassle, mess, or cost.
This article originally appeared in the July 2018 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.