Accidents can’t always be prevented; sometimes the deciding factor is simple dumb luck. However, accidents can be mitigated, and the severity of an accident can be reduced. The important things are to educate people as to the hazards and how to deal with them. Formal education is important, but so are safety signs, simple warnings to remind people what things are hazardous and in what way they are hazardous. There’s also the role of warning the uninformed, sometimes people know to avoid something purely because they see a safety sign, even if the actual specifics of the sign are unclear (Hazmat signs) the fact that there are safety signs plastered all over something can warn people to keep their distance and be wary. However, explaining to the relevant staff how to read and decipher the safety signs, and what to do in the case something happens improves the effectiveness of the safety signs and the actual safety of the environment.
Safety signs can of course be over used to the extent that people ignore them, but when used properly they have a fantastic role in alerting people to danger, and also letting them know where important things are. You might not think of them as safety signs but a sign telling someone where the chemical shower is, or where the fire extinguisher is fulfilling the same role as a safety sign warning someone where something is. Accidents happen, and when they do the best thing to do is mitigate the damage. There are ways to do that for almost every type of accident but they require people knowing where things are. In manufacturing or laboratory settings there are a lot of dangerous materials around at times, and there are also a lot of regulations and precautions surrounding these materials.
If people don’t know what the regulations are, and they don’t know where the safety equipment they can’t do anything to prevent an accident from turning into a catastrophe. You can’t undo everything, but the difference between being blinded and having itchy eyes might have been something as simple as seeing safety signs warning you where the sinks and eyewashes were for days on end, and the location is burnt into their mind. Safety signs can be extremely useful, especially when used properly and people know exactly what they mean. Just warning that something is dangerous isn’t as good as explaining why it’s dangerous and how to handle the material, if it’s a part of their job or if the worst happens and there is a leak. Simply putting up safety signs can help improve the safety by warning the uninformed, but when combined with real education it can make for a much safer work environment.
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