Canadian Occupational Safety

March/April 2020

Canadian Occupational Safety (COS) magazine is the premier workplace health and safety publication in Canada. We cover a wide range of topics ranging from office to heavy industry, and from general safety management to specific workplace hazards.

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F E A T U R E 32 areas, where painted and taped signage deteriorates fast. "The most common industries currently buying [projected signs] are in the automotive sector, the steel and lumber industries and the food- processing industry," Garg says. "But any place that has a sign can use a virtual sign." DISADVANTAGES While she thinks projected signage is in some ways a great concept, Julie Tilley, safety professional at Calgary- based Workforce Compliance Safety, says constantly changing signage is more likely to decrease workers' adherence to safety messages. "In industrial settings, consistency is the key. Someone who sees a stop sign somewhere every day of their life is going to stop. If they just see it once in a while, they may not," she says. "If you drive and every day you see a stop sign somewhere and you know you have to stop, then whether the sign is covered in snow or someone has knocked it down you're still going to stop. It's a habit, and you know it's the right thing to do." Moreover, Tilley adds, there is a risk of workers coming to rely on a suddenly appearing image to warn them of a serious hazard. Yet, unlike fixed signage, the need of a power source makes the system vulnerable to problems, and there may be technical failures, such as a projector or sensor malfunctioning. A preferable solution may be combining the fixed sign, which workers are always required to observe, with a projected sign that comes on flashing when a hazard is imminent. Concerning maintenance, she says the life of fixed painted signs can be greatly extended by the use of durable, industrial paint. For example, high- gloss alkyds and epoxy paints are estimated to last three to five years. Applying a sealant over the paint can also make signage last longer. COST COMPARISON In relation to painted or taped signage, which requires frequent maintenance, projected technology makes for cost-effective signage, Theissen says. In high-traffic areas, the one-time cost of projected signage ranges from $500 to $6,000, while paint or adhesive signage can cost $1,000 to $4,000 annually. "And, often, it is actually a much higher cost because, if you re-paint a whole intersection, traffic there is stopped for a day. There is a major disruption in the production process, and that means additional cost, and it's hard to measure that," Theissen says. "Typically, for a high-traffic area, the return on investment of a projected system is two to three years." With advanced light technologies, companies are experimenting with new uses for projected signage. GoboSource, for example, is working on a pilot project in Alberta that involves projecting crosswalk signage onto the road at a traffic intersection near a school. The goal is to maintain visible signage even in the winter. "The signage is always on. When it snows, the signage would not normally be visible. But a projected image can be projected onto the snow and will always be visible," Theissen says. "It will make sure the cars stop for the kids." "The signage is always on. When it snows, the signage would not normally be visible. But a projected image can be projected onto the snow and will always be visible." Uli Theissen, GoboSource Projection Systems COMMON USES FOR PROJECTED SIGNS Source: GoboSource RUGGED CONDITIONS Used in wet, cold, humid or dusty environments HIGH-TRAFFIC AREAS Projected signs are not affected by foot and vehicle traffic HIGH-RISK AREAS Motion sensors can be used to warn personnel as they approach high-risk areas ON MOVING EQUIPMENT Projectors can be installed on cranes and forklifts LOW-LIGHT ENVIRONMENTS Projected signs are highly visible in both bright and low-light environments TO COMBAT COMPLACENCY Blinking or rotating signs increase awareness

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