Safety signs are extremely common in industrial facilities. Such components serve as early warning systems for nearby workers, when entering a room or a section of the building where dangers are present. For example, a well-lit “Low Oxygen” sign strategically placed at the door of a chemical processing room may prevent unauthorized individuals from entering the room without proper equipment. These units are typically large, bold and supported by bright colors, such as neon green or red, to ensure detection in hazy conditions.
Types of lighting systems that indicate safety include the following:
- Rectangular exit signs w/ red backlighting
- “Low Oxygen” signs w/ green backlighting
- Exit signs coupled with strobe lights
- Dual signal stack lights
- Portable cart lights used for marking dangers
- Explosion proof signal lights w/ audio alarms
What role does safety luminaries play in industrial environments? More importantly, how effective are the units in mitigating safety and reducing risk? Find out below!
Benefits of Illuminated Safety
The combination of familiar words and bright lights is effective in addressing a wide range of unpredictable risks in industrial settings. When installed over a room in hallways, lights help improve visibility of the sign from far distances. Like LED warning lights, people are alerted about the conditions of the room immediately, as they approach the area. During fires, emergency evacuations and other catastrophes, the bright properties of safety signs may help boost visibility, resulting in increased reaction times from safe distances. This could reduce the possibility of workers seeking refuge in hazardous rooms with, for example, low oxygen or high levels of methane. Exposure to these conditions for long periods of time may lead to suffocation, loss of consciousness or vomiting.
To increase the effectiveness of illuminated safety signs, it would be possible to incorporate distracting features that are designed to catch the attention of workers, such as rapid blinking, flashing or color changing. Furthermore, adding auditory signals may improve detection during emergency evacuations or in low-visibility conditions wherein light beams are obstructed by dangerous elements in the facility, like fire smoke.
Safety Indicator Lights Case Studies
A case study (Evaluation of the Conspicuousness of Emergency Exit Signs) published by Toshiba Electric Equipment Corp., Chukyo University and The Fire Research Institute (Japan), provides hard evidence surrounding the effectiveness of applying various lighting effects to safety signs. During the study, researchers installed exit safety signs at different heights and deployed an assortment of different sizes to test for early detection. The study uncovered that the distance at which the signs are detected is associated with size: large signs- 80m, medium signs- 30m and small signs- 8m.
Interestingly, when supported by lights (in the form of backlighting to illuminate the word or phrase) all sizes increase in visibility, with small-sized signs reaching a level of effectiveness comparable with medium-sized signs.
In another case study (Visibility of Emergency Exit Signs and Emergency Lights through Smoke), this time from the National Research Institute of Fire and Disaster (Japan), scientists tested for safety sign visibility in smoky conditions. As mentioned earlier, this is where illumination is crucial for early detection of the signal. During the trials, researchers used fire smoke and artificial smoke to mimic emergency conditions. The group also tested a variety of lighting technologies, such as LED, halogen and fluorescent.
The results of the study showed that visibility is greatly improved when lights are used to illuminate safety signs. Perhaps the most intriguing conclusion from the trials involved the use of red-colored lights. The Japanese researchers found red to be one of the most visible colors under smoky conditions, as the light beam is less absorbed due to its long wavelength. Other factors that affect detection includes view angle and light intensity.
Larson Electronics offers an extensive range of safety signs, indicator lights, illuminated exit signs, signal stack lights and more. Our safety lights use LED technology for illumination, which improves overall lifespan, performance in hazardous locations and reliability.