Identifying Your Safety Signs at Risk of Sign Fatigue

out-of-focus safety signs

Safety sign fatigue happens when your employees stop consciously seeing a sign and receiving its message. It can happen for a few reasons. Here are a couple of the most common and what to do about them:

1. Habituation

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines habituation as a “decrease in responsiveness upon repeated exposure to a stimulus.” In other words, when you are exposed to something over and over, you eventually stop paying attention to it.

Think about it. Have you ever watched a TV show with the station’s logo appearing in the corner of your screen? For the first few minutes it might drive you nuts, but eventually you don’t even notice it’s there.

That can happen to your workplace safety signs. If the same sign has been in the same place for a long time, workers may stop noticing it which means it’s crucial message is not getting across. That’s safety sign fatigue.

The Fix: Mix it up! Try changing up the colors or even the language on your signs. While there are OSHA sign standards you must adhere to for workplace safety compliance, there is still a lot you can do to make your signs stand out. Consider creating your own, branded signage that uses your company’s colors and language. They’ll draw attention, stand out from the crowd – and may help reduce safety sign fatigue.

2. Fading or Damage

Signs can fade over time. In some cases they may get scratched, scuffed or splattered. It’s normal wear-and-tear, but it leads to the sign becoming harder to read. If it’s not easy to read, it most likely doesn’t get read and once again the message is lost. 

The Fix: Look for signs that are showing signs of their age such as fading, scratches, or anything else that makes them difficult to read. The goal is to make them jump out from  the background and be as easy as possible to read. Once you’ve identified those problem signs, order new signs to replace them, but don’t be afraid to change up the size, shape, or colors to make them stand out even more! If you want them to last longer, you can get signs that have protective coating and UV inhibitors on them to prevent avoidable scratching and fading.

3. Poor Placement

If a sign is posted in a prominent, easy-to-see spot, it will eventually go unnoticed. At first, it may draw some attention even in a bad location because it’s new and different so it will draw the eye. But, over time, it will fail to draw enough attention to do its job. 

The Fix: Simple. Just find a new spot to place your sign. It still needs to be somewhere easy to see and close to the area where it is needed, but there are usually a few good options. Consider unconventional ideas like adding a floor graphic instead of a wall sign or a projector that can move the sign periodically.

A Sign is Only as Good as Its Message

Your workplace safety signs play a vital role in protecting your employees from harm. When they stop getting noticed, your employees are at risk. It’s worth a small investment to survey your safety signs for any issues that could lead to safety sign fatigue and replace those that have lost effectiveness. 

You know that employee fatigue can lead to accidents, and the same holds true for your workplace safety signs.  Find your signs that are at risk of safety sign fatigue and freshen up their look, language and location to keep your employees safe and working happy.

Safety Sign Resources: