What’s that Decal Say?

Equipment decals: The cool, informative and potentially life-saving ink found on all aerial work platforms. They aren’t just positioned haphazardly all over the machine, and they aren’t there just to look pretty. Like your buddy’s ink, they have meaning, and the placement of equipment decals is carefully considered and critical to proper machine operation and safety.


Equipment manufacturers do not just put decals on a whim. They are guided by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which requires instructions and markings to be displayed on all aerial platforms in a clearly visible, accessible area and in a durable manner. Warnings, cautions and restrictions for safe machine operation and maintenance are used in accordance with…

  • ANSI Z535.1 – Safety Color Code;
  • ANSI Z535.3 – Criteria for Safety Symbols;
  • ANSI Z535.4 – Product Safety Signs and Labels.


Decals must be inspected for condition, legibility and positioning during every pre-operational checkout of the aerial platform. The machine’s operating manual explains the different decal colors and banners and that they must be legible or replaced. Before you conduct your next machine inspection, here’s a refresher course on equipment decals.


Know the Decal Classifications…

  • Decals on aerial platforms use symbols, color coding and signal works for identification
  • Safety alert symbols
    • Alerts operators to potential personal injury hazards
    • Obeying all safety messages following this symbol will avoid possible injury or death
  • Danger decals
    • Appear with a red header and include the safety alert symbol
    • Indicate a hazardous situation which, if not avoided, will result in death or serious injury
  • Warning decals
    • Appear with an orange header and include the safety alert symbol
    • Indicate a hazardous situation which, if not avoided, could result in death or serious injury
  • Caution decals
    • Appear with a yellow header and include the safety alert symbol
    • Indicate a hazardous situation which, if not avoided, could result in minor or moderate injury
  • Notice decals
    • Appear with a green header
    • Indicate a property damage message


Can You Read Me?

  • Decal inspectors are to make sure that ALL decals are legible and in the right place
  • If paint overspray, dirt, tears or scratches prevent the decal from being easily read, then clean or replace them
  • If a decal is missing, replace it
    • Decals are an inexpensive way to ensure proper and safe operation of the aerial platform


Maintaining Decals…

  • Use mild soap and water to clean safety signs
  • Do not use solvent-based cleaners

Solvents may damage the safety sign material, making the sign illegible


The bottom line with safety decal inspection is to make sure decals are easily visible when a machine goes out on the job. It may be tempting to give decals just a quick glance and think, “Yeah, they are fine.” Remember, however, that equipment can be damaged, or worse yet, an operator’s life could be in jeopardy without proper warning.


It’s best to err on the side of caution when it comes to decal inspection, maintenance and replacement. If a machine is sent out that has missing or damaged decals and there is an accident, there will be an investigation. And that investigation will include reviewing the condition of all safety decals.


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