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April 2014 Tackling Trouble Areas

Labeling Gets Sophisticated

Do-it-yourself solutions for hazardous chemicals and other facility signage.

April 02, 2014
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Theresa Jones is at the forefront of industrial cleaners.

She runs a U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)-related class about the importance of safety in the workplace.

Now, she’s launched a three-hour GHS/HazCom 2012 class for small janitorial franchise owners.

The goal? To educate them on the new program required by OSHA which affects every person in the U.S. who works with hazardous chemicals or waste.

Major changes impact labeling chemicals and safety data sheets (SDS).

The good news?

Jones is getting a very positive reaction.

If your facility is in compliance, then you probably went through this training a few months ago and will avoid the costly OSHA violation fines.

Records must be kept of all employees’ training and must be provided upon request.

As of August 2013, many workers hadn’t even heard of the changes, according to private sector hazardous waste communication consultants.

Not being fully trained on HazCom 2012 at this point is an expensive oversight, with costs up of to $7,000 per violation, per person.

If your facility is not in compliance, then you need to act fast.

So Jones is taking a leadership position.

Bill Balek, director of legislative affairs for ISSA, also offers a variety of training resources related to the GHS revisions to OSHA HazCom 2012 Standard at

Not every custodial professional, building service contractor and industrial cleaner is up to speed on GHS — otherwise they would have responded to requests for article interviews.

Other Safety Hazards

Custodial teams are very familiar with the buildings they service, so they’re equally familiar with hazards.

But they also have a second job — serving as critical safety agents for building and plant managers.

There are safety hazards throughout buildings and facilities, and cleaning staff need to comprehend safety signs and labels.

Cleaning and janitorial staff can assist the facility managers or safety staff by making note of damaged, missing or unreadable signs or labels.

These should be reported to supervisors.

They should be aware of lockout/tagout (LO/TO), a life-saving procedure in which repairs are made to machines when power sources are removed, locked out, tagged out and isolated.

They may, in some circumstances, need to follow LO/TO procedures.

LO/TO can be of special concern because LO/TO signs and tags are not used every day.

So cleaning and janitorial staff that work in industrial facilities should receive LO/TO training and know what they need to do (or not do) in response to LO/TO signs and tags.

“We focus on manufacturing facilities and adjacent offices as our customer base. This is where signage becomes important since most of our customers work in the manufacturing areas while we are doing our jobs,” says Ken Galo of L & K Office and Industrial Cleaning Services.

"We have to pay attention to LO/TO signs from maintenance personnel so we don’t turn on a circuit breaker to get power to a line of outlets for our buffers or charging an autoscrubber," Galo continues. "Since many lines carry power in a grid, an open outlet in the corner may also be connected to a pole outlet that a machine is using and the maintenance may have the power off while doing a repair.”

Proper Signs And Markings

Cleaning and janitorial staff should use appropriate signs, barriers and warning systems as they do their work.

These warn others about hazards such as slippery floors, fall hazards and areas that are closed.

Custom labels or signs are also great for marking equipment, organizing supplies or identifying vehicles.

“My staff use wet floor signs, falling ice signs, orange or red cones on or near hazards and caution tape,” says John Csehill of The Infinity Concern Inc.

“Signs are most effective when placed in break areas or by the time clock, but they must be constantly changed to be noticed, or they will simply become part of the background like a light switch you never use,” Csehill explains.

Labeling Technology

Labeling technology is trending toward more compact, easier to use and IT independent printing systems.

At the other end of the spectrum are dual purpose printers — good for general office labeling and GHS labels.

New labeling supplies are developed for specific applications.

Reasons may include adhesion, chemical resistance or abrasion properties.

Innovations include:

  • Advanced adhesives to label difficult surfaces like plastic, brick and wood.
  • Specially engineered supplies developed for lasting performance on surfaces like oily drums, near electrical circuits or even on freezing pipes.
  • Color-coded wire and cable markings indicating different uses such as grounding, hot wiring and utility locations.
  • Non-adhesive labels which can be easily reused for temporary applications.
  • Support products such as mobile print stations, printer carts and application sprays.
  • Repositionable tapes that can be applied again and again. Use these for temporary inventory labeling, work-in-progress signage, maintenance project signage, identifying temporary work stations and marking items needing repair.
  • Wayfinding signs and facility maps direct visitors and employees to entrances, exits and departments. Wayfinding signs need to be highly visible; appropriate for the design scheme of the office, building or school; and must communicate key messages with few words. In some cases, wayfinding signs may help guide people in emergency situations such as fires and power outages.
  • Floor marking supplies. Now available in a variety of thicknesses, colors, shapes and adhesive strengths, floor marking supplies are used in thousands of distribution centers, warehouses and factory floors to organize supplies, delineate traffic routes and generally help put people, materials and machines in their proper places for maximum efficiency and safety.

Bottom line — whether you’re labeling for GHS, LO/TO or your warehouse, if your labels fail to perform for any reason, then safety is compromised.

And that’s something no one wants.


Jack Rubinger, Graphic Products, contributes to Google+ communities, blogs and trade publications on workplace safety, electrical hazards and lean manufacturing. Graphic Products is the global leader in workplace labeling and signage. With more than 50 labeling supplies, Graphic Products Inc. provides the right label material for nearly every type of application including  arc flash , pipe marking, facility safety, mining, food processing and construction. For more information, visit or email

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