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Guidance on Workplace Marking and Safety Signposting | Construction and Operational Site

Guidance on Workplace Marking and Safety Signposting | Construction and Operational Site

Guidance on Workplace Marking and Safety Signposting | Construction and Operational Site


This article provides the international guidelines on workplace marking and safety signposting in constructions as well as operational workplaces. It includes marking guideline on storage tanks, technical installations, buildings, area with restricted access/ obstacles, high risk areas and labeling of dangerous substances. It also includes guideline on Health & Safety signposting principles, prohibition signs, mandatory signs, fire aid and rescue signs, fire fighting sings, warning signs and traffic regulatory signs.
An important basis for a sound and safe operation is sufficient marking and signposting of the installations and hazards. It is of great importance that own personnel as well as third parties viz. contractors, visitors, surveyors, emergency forces, etc. are fully aware of the marking and signposting of a facility. This gave rise to several laws and regulations. Over the last years the national regulations were more and more harmonized. In the European Economic Community (EEC) a General Directive was established. In order to increase uniformity of signposting and marking throughout the organisation and to support plant facilities without local regulations, “Code for Marking and Signposting” created.

Workplace Marking and Safety Signposting applicability


This guideline for Marking and Signposting gives General Specification for all construction, operational and special oil and gas facilities. It goes without saying that all marking and signposting used must follow the local laws and regulations that will always overrule internal standards. Though, the signs and colour codes in this article are selected after a careful review of all standards used in standards engineering and industry applicable norms. Below is the list of codes referred for preparing this article.
  • European Directive (92/58/EEC)
  • Indian Oil Industry Safety Directive (OISD-116)
  • International Standard Organisation (ISO 2719)
  • National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA 704)
  • US-American OSHA (1910.145).


Workplace marking guideline in construction and operation sites

An important tool to increase the safety of the operation is proper marking of the fixed installations in construction, operational and oil facilities. This includes all machinery, equipment, tools, structures, storage tanks, technical installations and buildings as well as high risk areas and areas with restricted access. The painting and marking of pipelines are covered by the NFPA, OISD, ISO and OSHA as stated earlier in this article.

Workplace marking guideline for storage tanks

All tanks must be clearly marked with a tank number for identification. The number should be positioned on the tank in such a way that it is visible from outside the tank pit (if not a cup tank) and the surrounding roads. The letter size selected should be big enough to be recognisable from greater distances (e.g. remote firefighting stations).
Wherever possible product tanks should be labelled in accordance to the product or the product class stored. This can be done by painting the applicable name or code on the tank itself or by using signs with interchangeable plates positioned in front of the tank pit dyke or on the tank pit walls. The latter solution has the advantage of easy updating in case of a product change.

Workplace marking guideline for petroleum products storage tanks

The danger classes of petroleum products are based on the flash point. The specifications of the classes differ from country to country. In Europe and some Asian countries, the classification is based on the ISO Standard 2719. The Indian system OISD-116 is divided in three classes as well, but with different limits. In the United States and many countries in the Americas the NFPA Code 704 is applicable with a subdivision dependent on the boiling point.
It is good practice and required in many countries to display this classification code on the tanks to provide information on the fire hazard of a product. This is not only of importance for the daily operation and for information of contractors, but mainly for outside emergency forces in case of a fire. Oil terminals with dedicated tanks for a certain product may paint the product name on the tank or use an interchangeable plate. Please note that in some countries it is required to display the NFPA Diamond (see next paragraph) on petroleum tanks as well.

Workplace marking guideline for Chemicals and Gases

Dedicated chemical tanks should be labelled with the product name and/or the applicable classification of the National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) Hazard Identification Coding System. The so-called NFPA Diamond allows a quick identification of the main product hazards. It is used world-wide and included in most Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and all Product Information Cards (PIC). For a more detailed description of the coding system please refer to the NFPA Code 704. Always refer to the manufacturer’s MSDS to identify the hazard code!
NFPA Diamond 704
NFPA Diamond 704
Health
4
May be fatal on very short exposure
3
Short exposure could cause serious injury
2
Exposure could cause temporary incapacitation
1
Exposure could cause irritation
0
No unusual hazards
Flammability
4
Flammable gas or extremely flammable liquid
3
Flammable liquid with flash point >38°C (>100°F)
2
Combustible liquid with flash point of 38 - 93°C (100 - 200°F)
1
Only combustible if pre-heated
0
Not combustible
Reactivity
4
Explosive material at room temperature
3
Explosive if shocked, heated or mixed with water
2
Unstable or may react violently if mixed with water
1
Stable but may react if heated, pressurized or mixed with water
0
Not reactive with water
Special
ox
Oxidising agent that can increase the rate of fire
w
Material is reactive when in contact with water


Workplace marking guideline for Utility Tanks

Dedicated utility tanks such as slop tanks, wastewater tanks, demineralised tanks, boiler water feed tank or diesel tanks for emergency generators etc. should be clearly marked with the product name and, if applicable, danger classification.

Workplace marking guideline for technical installations

All technical installations such as pump stations, compressor house, nitrogen plant, manifolds, truck racks, railcar racks, berths and jetties, processing units etc. should be marked clearly in order to simplify orientation and to prevent mix-up. Each terminal or facility should review the numbering and marking system for valves and pumps. It is crucial for safety and quality reasons that these units have a unique identification label.

Workplace marking guideline for Buildings

All buildings of operational importance should be marked. This includes the control room, boiler house, emergency generator house, firefighting building, electrical substations, workshop etc. Normally this is done by white sign-plates with black letters.

Workplace marking guideline for restricted areas or obstacles

Hazardous areas and other areas with restricted access (e.g. construction areas) should be fenced off (barriers, chains or barricade tape) with 45° diagonal red and white stripes. Roads entering tank pits and stairs onto an external floating roof should be blocked off with a red/white chain with the additional sign “Authorized personnel only” or the “No entry” sign. Barriers, overpasses with limited clearance and other traffic barricades (e.g. structure of pipeline bridges) should be painted with 45° diagonal red and white stripes. 
Colour: Traffic Red/Traffic White Paint: RAL 3020/9016                 

Workplace marking guideline for high risk areas

Areas of high risk and/or with physical hazards must be marked with yellow and black stripes. Because of its high contrast and good visibility, the same colour code is internationally used for warning signs. Areas to be marked include, but are not limited to:
High risk areas (noise, heat, fumes etc.)
Swivel areas of cranes and loading arms
Rim of berths and jetties if not protected by a railing
High voltage areas
Slippery floors and wet surfaces and protection on stairs
Areas to be kept clear
Other physical hazards 

Colour: Traffic Yellow/Traffic Black Paint: RAL 1023/9017              

Guidance on Labeling of Dangerous Substances

Dangerous substances must be labelled according to the legal requirements. This applies to stocking, processing, packaging, mixing and transportation. For Oil terminals the proper label identification is of particular importance for the handling of additives, drum filling and waste disposal. Proper labeling must show the following information:
  • Name of the dangerous substance(s)
  • Standard symbol or danger symbol
  • Risk (R) phrase describing the specific risks
  • Safety (S) phrase describing the safety precautions to be taken
  • Text informing how risks can be reduced
  • Name and address of the manufacturer

 The following list shows all international danger symbols (please note that the classification for flammability may vary locally):
Guidance on Labeling of Dangerous Substances
Guidance on Labeling of Dangerous Substances

Workplace Signposting guideline in construction and operation sites


Signs at the workplace are an indispensable way of protecting employees and contractor personnel from accidents. Their purpose is to convey information in a comprehensive way about regulation, objects and situations. The harmonisation of the relevant national legislation over the last years has led to world-wide accepted standards. Nevertheless, local differences in the detailed layout still exist. The code for safety signs used in this article is based on international standards and on the European Directive 92/58/ECC. It is implemented with some national deviations in all countries in the EC and used in several Asian countries.
The traffic signs used are based on European and US-American standards. They are only meant as examples as they may deviate from the local legislation that always has to be adhered to.
Types of Health and Safety Signs:
All the health and safety signage are divided into five categories.
  1. Mandatory Signs.
  2. Safe Condition Signs.
  3. Prohibition Signs.
  4. Warning Signs.
  5. Fire Equipment Signs.


Workplace Signposting Principles

The psychology of safety signs is based on colour and shape. These principles are applicable world-wide. It is recommended to display a safety poster with all safety signs and their explanations in a prominent location e.g. operators’ cubicle, control room, etc to make employees familiar with them. The following table gives an overview:
Workplace Signposting Principles
Workplace Signposting Principles
Correct position, clear visibility and correct size are crucial for any signposting. Furthermore, it is important that signs are only used where needed. Exaggerated signposting will have an adverse effect, as signs will not be recognized any more. Each facility should install a combination sign-plate at its entrance and/or on the border to the restricted area rather than having several separate signs.
The sign-plate should display the most important prohibition and mandatory signs as well as the speed limit. The signs displayed should be applicable for the whole facility. In addition, general signposting is needed in areas with third parties present e.g. truck racks, terminals, jetties, etc or in other hazardous areas as a reminder. Prefabricated signs are available from several manufactures in form of self-adhesive stickers or printed on PVC or metal plates. The size of signs is depending on the distance from which they should be recognizable. Mandatory, prohibition, danger and traffic signs do normally have a diameter of approx. 40 cm (16”). First aid, rescue and firefighting signs have a size of approx. 20 cm (8”).
The same signs used in the plant should be used for the plant facility, constriction area, terminal emergency map, the facility traffic and security map, the facility information booklet and all other Health and Safety related documents.

Workplace Signposting - Prohibition Signs

Prohibition signs are important to stress the relevant safety rules mainly to visitors, truck drivers, ship crews, publics and contractors. The following is a list of most important prohibition signs used in facility:
Workplace Signposting - Prohibition Signs
Workplace Signposting - Prohibition Signs

Workplace Signposting - Mandatory Signs

On terminals mandatory signs are important to point out the personal protective equipment (PPE) to be used. Others could be “Pedestrians must use this side” or “Lift correctly”. They mainly appeal to visitors, truck drivers, ship crews and contractors to show the safety rules. Following list is a selection of the most important mandatory signs:
Workplace Signposting - Mandatory Signs
Workplace Signposting - Mandatory Signs

Please note that combination signs for the mandatory use of respiratory equipment AND ear protection or the use of respiratory equipment AND safety helmet etc. are available.

Workplace Signposting - First Aid and Rescue Signs

First aid equipment and facilities must be clearly marked with the applicable international signs. Well placed rescue signs can speed up the evacuation of a site or building and help those giving first aid. In buildings they normally must be illuminated by emergency lights or at least be photo-luminescent.
The following list is a selection of the most important first aid and rescue symbols:
Workplace Signposting - First Aid and Rescue Signs
Workplace Signposting - First Aid and Rescue Signs

Please note that the signs “safety shower” and “eye washer” should be displayed on top of each other when a combined shower/eye bath is installed. The applicable signs used in the USA differ slightly. The signs “emergency exists” are available in a wide range covering all possible directions.

Workplace Signposting - Firefighting Signs

Firefighting equipment are used in case of an emergency only. To ensure its quick and successful use, proper marking is of extreme importance for the following reason:
In the early phase of a fire every second counts and searching for equipment would mean loss of precious time.
The use of the right type of equipment (e.g. water, foam or powder) is crucial for successful firefighting.
As the firefighting equipment is not used on a day-to-day basis operator will not know all locations by heart.
The equipment may be used by third parties viz. contractors, fire brigade etc. which are not fully familiar with the site.
In case of an emergency, people may be confused or may even panic.
Smoke can limit visibility and equipment that is not properly marked may be overlooked.
The following may be a list of the most important firefighting signs:
Workplace Signposting - Firefighting Signs
Workplace Signposting - Firefighting Signs

A special symbol for wheeled fire extinguisher (50 kg or 100 lbs) may be used.
Although not fully in accordance with the international standards, the signs for Emergency Shut Down (ESD) buttons normally show a red square with the text “Emergency Stop” or “ESD” or the translation into the applicable language. It is of importance that the sign is positioned directly at the button and close to the equipment to be shut down. If not obvious from the position of the ESD button the sign clearly has to say, which equipment will be shut down.

Workplace Signposting - Warning Signs

Warning signs are used to communicate vital information about a possible hazardous condition or situation in workplace. They are required by health and safety regulation and must be displayed to warn persons to take precautions. For general dangers, certain standard symbols have been agreed by law. Dangers for which no such symbol exists can be indicated by using the general warning sign combined with an additional safety text to indicate the danger accurately. Below are the most important standard warning signs:
Workplace Signposting - Warning Signs
Workplace Signposting - Warning Signs

Workplace Signposting - Traffic Signs

Every facility must ensure that the local traffic regulations are adhered to. All traffic viz. operational vehicles, private cars, contractors and road tanker must be controlled and guided by using official traffic signs. Wherever possible, private cars of employees and visitors should not enter the restricted area of the terminal. The route of tanker trucks should be limited as far as possible and preferably guided in a one-way system.
One of the most important signs will be for the general speed limit, which is normally 20 km/h (approx. 15 mph) and should not be more than 30 km/h (approx. 20 mph). Another important sign is for the road clearance (clear height) to protect pipeline crossings. To be eye-catching, the official traffic sign should always be used instead of painting the clearance height on the structure. All traffic signs should be reflecting for clear visibility at night.
Although in some countries different traffic signs are used, the following US-American and European signs, which are also used in many Asian and South-American countries, below are some examples:
Workplace Signposting - Traffic Signs
Workplace Signposting - Traffic Signs

Conclusion

Awareness on standard marking and signposting of a facility is very much important for contractors, visitors, surveyors, emergency forces, etc. This gave rise to several laws and regulations. An important tool to increase the safety of the operation is proper marking of the fixed installations in construction, operational and oil facilities. This includes all machinery, equipment, tools, structures, storage tanks, technical installations and buildings as well as high risk areas and areas with restricted access. The painting and marking of pipelines are covered by the NFPA, OISD, ISO and OSHA. Signs at the workplace are an indispensable way of protecting employees and contractor personnel from accidents. Their purpose is to convey information in a comprehensive way about regulation, objects and situations. All the health and safety signage are divided into five categories viz. Mandatory Signs, Safe Condition Signs, Prohibition Signs, Warning Signs, Fire Equipment Signs.The harmonization of the relevant national legislation over the years has led to world-wide accepted standards.


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