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“NEMA has always been in the electrical safety business,” said Paul Orr, NEMA program manager and secretary for the Z535 Committee. “But safety is a growing need, not just an electrical safety issue. Safety standards apply across the board.”
The decision to create a Web page for the documents grew from a discussion by the committee to increase visibility of the series and to supplement the committee’s mission to develop standards for the design, application, and use of signs, colors, and symbols intended to identify and warn against specific hazards and for other accident prevention purposes.
Orr cited National Safety Council (NSC) statistics to spotlight the need for safety standards:
• Unintentional-injury deaths were up 2 percent in 2006, following what had been years of decline.
• Accidental injuries cost Americans more than $650 billion annually.
• Every four minutes, someone is killed as a result of a preventable injury.
• Unintentional injuries continue to be the fifth leading cause of death.
• 28.4 million people were treated in hospital emergency departments for unintentional injuries.
• The economic impact of unintentional injuries amounted to $652.1 billion in 2006, the equivalent of $2,200 per capita.
Orr pointed to ANSI Z535.3, Criteria for Safety Symbols, in particular as a means of preventing injuries. “We live in a multi-ethnic and highly mobile country,” he said. “Different reading skills complicate the effectiveness of word-only signs. This standard demonstrates effective safety symbols and their ability to provide critical information for accident prevention and for personal protection without using words.”
The entire ANSI Z535 series is designed to provide a tangible means to prevent injuries by standardizing recognized symbols and colors.
To visit the new NEMA Website that promotes safety standards along with safety tips, go to www.nema.org/Z535.
Publication date: 07/14/2008