Industrial labelling: for safety and efficiency
Industrial labelling is more important than many may realise and should be an essential activity in all organisations for maximum efficiency and increased safety, as mislabelling of equipment, chemicals or machines can have potentially fatal consequences. Correct labelling is vital from a regulatory, compliance and safety perspective; however, it can also increase productivity and operations.
Labelling processes should be continuously updated and reviewed for a safe and efficient workplace. Areas in your organisation where efficient labelling can make a huge difference include:
Warehouses, inventory and shipping
In busy warehouses with large numbers of staff, products and inventory, labelling can be the difference between calm and chaos. Using label systems to code, itemise and keep track of stock can create a cohesive workplace with organised processes such as labelling shelving with the item and quantity so staff can easily distribute new stock in the appropriate place or refill areas where it runs low. Signs and labels can be placed to mark where every item is located so when it comes to inventory and stocktake it becomes immediately apparent if products are not accounted for.
Warehouses also have potential danger to staff and visitors if the environment has not undergone thorough safety checks. Forklifts and heavy machinery can pose a risk if not managed properly. Create labels and signage that can be displayed reminding everyone of safety responsibilities. For example, what safety equipment is to be worn and what areas are available to visitors.
Maintenance, machines and asset management
In industries where machinery is utilised, regular maintenance will be a vital part of the safety process. You might find it helpful to devise a plan that labels all equipment with a number or code that is easily managed via a spreadsheet or log. Other company assets can be easily identified through a labelled index, including things such as TVs, computers, electronics or even remote controls and office staplers.
One of the most important reasons for labelling in the industrial services is chemical management and usage. Hazardous chemicals are usually a standard in manufacturing, mining or other industrial industries and need to be handled appropriately for safety. Review the code of practice for chemical labelling implemented by Safe Work Australia and make it available to all relevant personnel. If incorrectly used, distributed or even transported, chemicals have the potential to be deadly — they risk explosions, catching on fire or causing reactions or poisoning.
The way to mitigate these risks is with stringent labelling and storage. Ensuring all chemicals are correctly labelled with contents, dates, ways to be stored and handled, and emergency or poisoning incident information. Whether working with chemicals in-house or from a supplier you must ensure you have the correct documentation and Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS). Display these labels and instructions everywhere you can think of. Ensure all staff members, visitors or stakeholders that could come across the chemicals are aware of their responsibilities and how they should deal with accidents or incidents.
Lab workers and scientists will be familiar with stringent labelling expectations due to the importance of tracking and identifying specimens and samples on test tubes, beakers and swabs. The quality of labels is vital in a lab setting as samples are often placed in varying temperatures and labels must be able to withstand the heat, cold or adverse conditions. Make labels readily available for all staff in the lab so they can easily access and update information, print sample labels and send results where needed. Lab equipment can be labelled for easy identification — such as fire extinguishers or emergency kits — and identifying latex and non-latex gloves, eye goggles and other protective equipment means all staff can be aware of what they are to use and where they can find it to minimise risk.
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