Customize Your Safety Tag: A Step by Step Guide

Work facilities are full of electrical, mechanical, and even chemical sources that can be prone to spouting energy or starting spontaneously in ways that can cause harm or death. Therefore, identifying energy sources and chemicals is essential, and one of the best ways to do so is by using a Lockout/Tagout System.

Take control of your organization’s safety system by creating your own custom safety tags. Safety tags must be designed so that they are compliant with federal safety initiatives, such as the American National Standard Institute’s ANSI Z535.5. The standard provides user guidelines on how to efficiently develop safety tags and barricade marking, from design to application. Creating your own custom safety tags allows you to personalize your lockout/tagout system by highlighting specific messages designed to control specific plant electrical and energy release hazards.

Step 1: Choose the Right Message for You:

A tag will have a signal word panel with messages such as “Danger” or “Caution” with a safety alert symbol, featuring a triangle with an exclamation mark to indicate a hazard. It is not used on safety notice or safety instruction tags. The triangle should be the same color as the signal word lettering, and the exclamation mark portion should be the same color as the signal word panel background. This way, the tag has optimal contrast and visibility.

What header is best?

ANSI Danger Tag Header DANGER: Use only in extreme situations. This is ideal for hazardous situations that, if not avoided, will result in death or serious injury. The word should be in safety white letters on a rectangular safety red background.

ANSI Warning Tag Header WARNING: This is for situations that will resultin death or serious injury if avoided. The word WARNING should be in safety black letters on a safety orange background.

ANSI Caution Tag Header CAUTION: Indicates a hazardous situation that, if not avoided, could result in minor or moderate injury. Use with the safety alert symbol.

ANSI Notice Tag Header NOTICE: This header is better for messages related to property damage, not personal injury.

Step 2. Format it with a tag border:


ANSI Tags


Pick a border to surround the message. The tag border should contrast with the color of the message panel and use the same colors from the word panel.

Step 3. Create the Message

The message on a tag observes the type of hazard present, the consequence of not avoiding the hazard, and how to avoid it.

  • Add an Action or Avoidance statement. Show the viewer how to avoid the hazard. The label must communicate what the hazard is and how to avoid it in a split second.
    Wear Dust Mask Do Not Energize Keep Hands Off!
    Do Not Open Valve Lockout/Tagout All Power Sources Do Not Drink This Water
    Do Not Start This Machine Keep 40'' Away Watch Your Hands
  • State the hazard clearly and specifically. State the danger that needs to be identified specifically.
    Defective Equipment Hazardous Voltage Pinch Points
    Confined Space Respiratory Irritants in This Area Explosive Material
    Open Trench Equipment Locked Out
  • Avoid Weasel Words that give 'approximate' directions. Weasel words are vague and indistinct indications in safety messages.
    Phrase with 'Weasel Words.' Correction
    Be sure to clean the filter regularly. 'Regularly' is too broad. Give a specific time frame.
    Use 'as needed.' Not specific enough. Try "Use 48 Ml."
    may start. Too vague. Try "Equipment starts automatically."
  • Add a consequence statement. Tell the viewer in clear, simple language what will happen if the warning is ignored.
    Reclaimed Unsterilized WaterCan Cause Injury.
    My Life is On the Line.
    Can Shock, Burn, or Cause Death.
    Can Sting Eyes, Irritate Nose, or Cause Death.
    (Following the action statement: Do Not Remove this Tag”) To Do So Without Authority Will Mean Disciplinary Action!
    Unauthorized Removal of This Lock/Tag May Result In Immediate Discharge.
  • Message Hints and Guidelines
    • Use the active voice and command verbs to emphasize your intent. Some examples are, "Enter by Permit Only" or "Avoid ReachingAround Guards."
    • A customization wizard allows you to add employee and organization names,pictures, or logos to personalize it.

Step 4. Fight flimsy tag systems.


How much weight should your tag or attachment device be able to pull? By law, 50 pounds! Let's go back to the OSHA rule 1910.147:

Tagout devices, including their means of attachment, shall be substantial enough to prevent inadvertent or accidental removal. Tagout device attachments shall be of a non-reusable type, attachable by hand, self-locking, and non-releasable with a minimum unlocking strength of no less than 50 pounds and having general design and basic of being at least equivalent to a one-piece, all environment-tolerant nylon cable.

Having a durable tag that can pull significant weight is essential so they are more operable for a variety of heavy machinery. There is no way that thin plastic tags, tags with small eyelets, or paper tags meet this test. Xpresstags' custom safety tags are designed specifically to comply with ANSI guidelines.

Step 5. Applying Tags


Safety tags should be affixed as close as safely possible to the respective hazards, or at switches, levers, or other points to activate the hazards, and be clearly visible. Safety tags should be fastened with connecting methods such as a nylon tie wrap, string, wire, or adhesive. Tags should have a hole inside with at least a 3/8’’ diameter to accommodate the width of a lock shank if necessary.

Put your personal stamp on the safety tags by visiting https://www.xpresstags.com/
Why is a Lockout/Tagout System so important?

An energy source is not just your caffeinated coworker. Electrical, mechanical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, thermal, or other sources in machines and equipment can be hazardous to workers. An energy isolating device physically prevents the transmission or release of energy. Examples include manually operated electric circuit breakers, line valves, disconnect switches, manually operated switches, or blocks.

Electrical lockout tags
How can We Curb Hazardous Energy Releases?

Pneumatic Lockout TagsAn unexpected trigger of hazardous energy, such as a worker mishandling the wrong chemical canister or equipment piece, can lead to disastrous consequences, from injury to death. For example, a worker could be trying to clear a conveyor jam that could suddenly release, crushing the worker in the process. Without a strong tag or warning system, dangerous chemicals and hazardous energy sources are difficult to distinguish from one another and can be underutilized. Therefore, workplace regulations must focus on tempering potent sources of hazardous energy. According to OSHA’s § 1910.147, workplaces must establish an energy control program, and one of the best ways to identify and manage energy sources is setting a Lockout/Tagout System in place.
Lockout, as part of an established procedure, is placing a lockout device (a lock, either with a key or combination) on an energy isolating device. This ensures that the device and the equipment being controlled cannot be operated until the lockout device is removed. Using a tagout system (a tag and a means of attachment) is necessary when a lockout system is not possible, and indicates that the equipment/energy isolating device may not be operated until the tagout device is removed. Though lockout systems are OSHA'S preferred recommendation, tagout devices are effective warning systems against hazardous materials.

Danger Tag Holder
Not all safety tags are meant to prevent serious injury or death. Digital printing techniques allow users to post precise work order or repair instructions. Show a photo of the particular hazard. Safety tags, unlike a safety manual or even a safety sign, can be positioned just where a warning will be read and heeded.

Safety Tag with Photo

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