Importance Of Custom Caution Tags In Manufacturing Facilities

In industrial and manufacturing settings, communicating quickly about potential safety issues is vital. Creation and use of custom caution tags for out-of-service machines and vehicles can help instruct employees on potential safety hazards. 

What is a Tagout?

In order to protect employees from having machines start up or perform without warning, those that are being serviced must be properly tagged. After following required safety operations like disconnecting the machine from power or removing the keys from vehicles, a warning tag must be adhered in one or more obvious places to indicate that the machinery is not to be used. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has rules for how tags should be applied. When possible, a locking device as well as a tag should be installed so that it is impossible to start or use the machine. But in some cases, this can't be done, so a visible tag installed directly on or as close as possible to the operating mechanism is required. Only the person who applied the tag is authorized to remove it, after repairs are completed.

Requirements of Industrial Caution or Warning Tags

Because OSHA does not require one standard design for warning tags, facilities are able to design and create their own tags that make the most sense for their industry. (Within some industries, standards for such tags may exist, so check with any governing bodies or safety associations for guidelines before making your own.)

However, OSHA does have some requirements for tags used in industrial settings as cautions or warnings. These include:

  • Durable. Tags must be legible and not deteriorate. If a tag might be exposed to ultraviolet light, for example, it must be protected from fading. Inks used on such tags can't smear or deteriorate if they get wet or something spills on them.
  • Standard throughout the facility. A tag used to warn employees about a hazard has to be the same size, shape and color. As well, all employees who might come into contact with such a tag need to receive formal training about each type of tag used and what it means. 
  • Have a large caution word. Most tags must have a warning such as "Danger" or "Caution" in lettering large enough to see from at least 5 feet away.
  • Directly communicate instructions. The tag must tell employees exactly what action to take (or not take), such as "Do Not Operate," or "Do Not Start." Tags should also have a place to indicate which employee or employees are authorized to remove the tag.
  • Difficult to remove. Caution tags are usually applied with a thicker wire that can't easily be cut off or tear off, or a cable tie. In most situations, they have to be applied by hand.

Facilities may choose to color code tags by department or by type of caution, as long as each tag is highly visible. Bright yellow, green or orange, or white tags with red or orange printing, are often used to indicate a warning. It is also possible to increase safety by printing caution tags with reflective or metallic backgrounds or inks so that they can easily be seen in lower levels of light.

Some industries and applications have required colors and sizes of type, so check with your industry's safety association or OSHA before you print your custom tags to ensure all standards are being met. You should also check before having a large order printed, as standards can be updated.