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Getting Ahead with Health and Safety Signage

People often ask, "How can I be competitive and even more successful in a recession economy." The answer is not as easy as it sounds: "Find a need and fill it."

By Suzanne Batchelor - May 2009

People often ask, "How can I be competitive and even more successful in a recession economy." The answer is not as easy as it sounds: "Find a need and fill it."

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  • First, to be competitive, you have to be ahead of the eight ball, the leader of the pack - in short - the first to get an item to market. To be successful is trickier. Many customers don't always know what they need. If you have a golden product and your customers don't know they need it, then it is up to you to educate them. So that is why I am writing this article - to help you help your customers.

    Currently, every company in the US (and abroad) must have certain safety and health signage in the workplace. The type of signage is different all over the world. However in 2003, the United Nations (UN) adopted the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The GHS includes criteria for the classification of health, physical and environmental hazards, as well as specifying what information should be included on signs and labels of hazardous chemicals as well as safety data sheets. The United States was an active participant in the development of the GHS, and is a member of the UN bodies established to maintain and coordinate implementation of the system.

    OSHA Implementation
    In May 2005, OSHA added to its regulatory agenda consideration of rulemaking to revise its current Hazard Communication standard (HCS) to align its requirements with the GHS. As the first step in that rulemaking process, OSHA published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) on September 12, 2006.

    The ANPR explains the history of the development of the GHS, including OSHA's involvement in the process. It also indicates how alignment with the GHS would affect the requirements of the HCS, and asks a series of questions to allow the public an opportunity to provide input. The comment period closed on November 13, 2006 and the final rule is in line for adoption.

    To set the stage for the GHS, the American National Standards Institute issued guidance in July 2007 for US companies to follow for the labeling of chemicals to more effectively communicate hazards. This guidance includes signs and symbols that companies can already begin adopting and it is clearly paving the way for the adoption of the GHS.

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    Why You Need to Know
    To be ahead of the game, sign companies can use this information to educate themselves and their customers to meet the success recipe for today's market. The HSE Group has created a CD integrating the new signs which is available now. In addition, we're working with SA International, who will offer the sign collection in DVD format and online where the signs will be sold individually. This gives your sales people plenty of flexibility - both options give customers the opportunity to view the signs and depending on their specific applications and volume needed, they can either order the full collection or buy individual signs online at a cheaper price per sign if they don't need as many. Of course, if you buy the collection on CD/DVD you will have the database at your site. It also comes with a browser making it easy to search for words integral to the signs your customers might need.

    This product release is ahead of the competition curve. Our original Safety SignsCD is a collection of over 2,500 signs and symbols stored in .eps and .pdf formats and fully compatible with graphics software and sign-cutting/page layout software. It has all the ANSI/ISO formats that you need to get prepared. If you have a customer who has an industrial or retail facility with employees exposed to hazards, they have the need. You just need to fill it.

    Included in the SignsCD package is a full color catalog with a cool on-screen image browser with many advanced features. It works fully on Windows or Macintosh and contains .pdf versions of all signs formatted for quick and easy printing using the included copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader. The online application will be available soon on, so we'll keep you informed through

    Suzanne Batchelor is the President of The HSE Group, Inc. and international safety consulting firm that specializes in safety management solutions for international companies who are geographically disperse. She can be reached at 904-491-5554 or website is

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