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Picking the right material for your signage needs

The decision-making process is never easy, we make so many quick decisions unconsciously; others we agonize over. We want picking a material for your signage needs to be easy, so we’ve compiled a list of materials showing what your options are. First, you need to ask yourself: where is it being applied, will it be located indoors or outdoors, how long is it going to be up for, and any additional factors you might need to consider.

All materials we offer at IDENT, can be printed double sided, and other than the banner stock, come in sheets of 48” x 96” or smaller but can be made larger with 2 or more pieces.

 

Sign Materials

Coroplast 
Coroplast is lightweight, recyclable and inexpensive, making it an easy choice for temporary signage, billboards or golf tournaments. It can be used both indoors and out but isn’t ideal for a long term sign as it is easily damaged.
Popular Applications: Temporary signage such as temporary lease signs, temporary directional signage, temporary reflective construction and traffic signage. Also a popular choice for special events and tradeshows.

 

ABS 
ABS is a lightweight, thermoplastic material that isn’t recommended for outdoor use as it can snap in very cold temperatures (like Canada ☹). If you’re looking for a material that gives you a good balance of cost and performance, ABS will often be a good choice.
Popular Applications: TDG Placards, Indoor Wallcharts, Indoor Tags, and Indoor Safety Signs.  


Banner Stock
Banner Stock is a great option for regularly transported signage, as it can be rolled up and is fairly lightweight depending on size. Banners are often mounted using ropes, screws, bungee cords, etc. inserted through metal grommets along the edges. It also makes an excellent outdoor tag, as it can handle Canadian winter and is tear resistant.
Popular Applications: WHMIS and Do not disturb tags, and large signage for special events.


ACM (Dibond)  
ACM is a dense lightweight material that combines two aluminum layers with solid plastic core and comes with a protective film on both sides. This rigid composite material isn’t ideal for all signage needs, as it should be mounted flat. Mounting ACM to a post is a gamble, as it can bend, snap and raise the protective film.
Popular Applications: Outdoor wall mounted safety signs, display and exhibition and architectural signs.

 

Aluminum – Most popular & All aluminum signs have a 5-year warranty at IDENT
Aluminum is a solid metal sign that is extremely durable, lightweight, and don’t rust or decompose. This material can be engraved, stamped and comes in multiple colours with the option of 3 different reflectivity’s: Engineer Grade, High Intensity and Diamond Grade.*
Thinner aluminum options are available and make for great tags!
Popular Applications: Pipeline Signs, Wellsite Signs, Facility Signs, Out of Service Tags/Stamped Valve Tags, and any long-term outdoor application.

 

* Things to consider when choosing a reflectivity: how often is the road travelled at night, and the speed. If you still aren’t sure what reflectivity would work best for your project, we’d love to help you narrow that down.  

Signage Materials Chart


Still feeling stuck? Regardless of the location you’ll be placing your sign, we’ve got a material that will work in both terms of practicality and functionality. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need a recommendation, or if you would like to place an order! 



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Oh Deer! What you need to know about Alberta Wildlife Signage

Wildlife signs have their purpose all year round, but we’ve seen a spike in orders recently and thought we’d lend a hand, so bear with us while we cover some basics. Typically speaking there are 4 types of wildlife signs: Stock Crossing Signs, Stock Warning Signs, Wildlife Information Signs, Invasive Species and Wildlife Warning Signs. 

Types of Wildlife Signs

Wildlife signs aren’t just used for National Parks and highways, there are many reasons you would need to put up Wildlife signage. Some reasons include, but are not limited to: Wildlife Management, Fisheries Management, Water Management, Vegetation Management and Security. If your company has a license/lease to use public lands for oil-related uses, you are required to have these signs at the road entries so the roads can be easily closed if needed. 

Land act signs

For all those eager beavers wondering if there are any rules or regulations, for private property, the answer is no! You can pick a standard wildlife sign such as a Warning sign, or something more custom.

But in Alberta, for example, the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) and Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) co-manage public lands under the Public Lands Act. Under this act, the AEP can require the installation of signs for a variety of environmental controls at roadway entrances to the public land being used for energy operations.

These signs have some requirements that must be followed in order to be compliant:

  • The signs must state the appropriate land notice
  • Text must meet the minimum height requirement
  • Signs must meet a minimum size requirement
  • Signs require a level of reflectivity
  • Signs require a border

If you want to ensure that you are compliant with the AER and AEP regulations, give us a call. IDENT has been Canada’s leader in oil and gas signage for over 35 years. We pride ourselves on being the experts on regulatory and compliance signage so that you don’t have to worry. We’re in your field!

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Different Types of Posts & Bases

Signs are, without a doubt, our first love. We obsess over making sure we produce the highest quality of signs we can, putting the knowledge and experience we’ve gained from our 35 years in the industry to work. Like every superhero needs a sidekick, every sign needs a solid foundation to keep it upright and visible.

When it comes to the structural support for your signs there are several options, each optimal for a different setting. There are zero and minimal ground disturbance methods, as well as regular and heavy duty posts. We’ll walk you through each type so that you’ll be confident which option is best for your project.


Posts - Regular & Heavy Duty

Posts are by far the most popular and reliable method of putting up a permanent sign in a location with no restrictions on ground disturbance. ⅓ of the post is typically put into the ground, which usually equates to roughly 2-2.5 feet for an average post. The reason you’ll want to make sure that you get this deep into the ground is that this ensures that the post is beneath the frost line which will prevent the likelihood of the post shifting during a frost heaving.


While there’s little difference between regular sign posts and heavy duty sign posts aesthetically, when it comes to function you’ll want to make sure you have the right post for the job. Regular posts are used for smaller signs (up to 2 sq ft) in places where the ground is relatively soft and there isn’t a lot of wind. And, just as we figure you’ve assumed, heavy duty posts are best used for larger signs and in places where the ground is rocky or harder, and they are much better for areas that tend to be windier.

Heavy Duty Post

Minimal Disturbance

Our minimal disturbance bases are designed for easy transport and are made up of 2 90 degree “V” brackets, each with 6” spikes on the end that penetrate the ground and provide a solid foundation for the signpost. Another bonus for minimal disturbance bases is that you don’t have to worry about locating lines with MGD.

There are a couple of scenarios when placing a permanent post a couple of feet into the ground isn’t a viable option. First, there are times when permission is required to put anything into the ground more than a twelve inches. Second, perhaps you need a semi-permanent solution for putting up a sign. In other words, you need the sign to be secured but you want to be able to easily remove it easily after the project has been completed.

Minimal Disturbance Post

Zero Disturbance

For situations where the ground is just way too hard for a post, or you simply need a temporary sign, we’d suggest you go with zero disturbance options. We covered quad stands in our blog post What You Need to Know About Temporary Road Signs, but there is a second option that we’d like to tell you about: concrete bases.

Quad Sign Stand

Concrete bases are a solid option (pun definitely intended) for putting your signs where they need to be. These solid and stable bases provide perfect anchors for either a regular or heavy duty posts without the need to penetrate the ground, plus they’re great for windy areas. These bases can be custom made, giving you total control over the diameter, thickness, and weight.

concrete base

Spring Assembly

Regardless of if you’re putting you’re using a minimal or zero disturbance option, if it’s going to be put in a windy location you may want to consider adding a spring assembly. A spring assembly will allow for the sign to be temporarily pulled toward the ground, providing just enough give in your sign to reduce the stress on your post to prevent the sign from shearing off or the post to be uprooted. Spring assemblies also work well for parking lots or farmland with animals since the flexibility it provides lends itself well to minor bumps and nudges.



Regardless of the location, you’ll be placing your sign we’ve got a post option that will work both in terms of practicality and functionality. Take a look at our posts and bases and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need a quote or would like to place an order!  



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What You Need to Know About Temporary Road Signs

Temporary signs have their purpose all year round, but we definitely see a spike in orders come winter! One extremely Canadian reason is that as the temperature drops and snow and ice begin to accumulate, it’s time to put traffic signs on ice roads! Another common reason is to make sure all signs are compliant while awaiting final approval for leased land.


When Do You Need a Temporary Sign?

Ice Roads

While most people may think of winter as a time with more driving hazards and reduced access, for many oil and gas workers, ice roads provide access to areas that are otherwise unreachable the rest of the year. While Canadian winters may seem endless when we’re in them, these ice roads are only functional for part of the year. Permanent signs won’t work on these roads for a very obvious reason: if you try to hammer a post and sign into the ice, it probably won’t be there come spring when the ice melts. They are also an expensive option for a road that won’t be around for very long!

Legal Subdivision finalized by AER

Temporary signs are also quite commonly used while awaiting final approval for Legal Subdivision (LSD) use. No one wants to invest in a permanent sign for land use that is very short-term or has not yet been approved for longer-term use. That said, it’s also extremely important that all work sites have all mandatory signs. Check out our blog post on preparing for an audit for a refresher on what’s required.

Your Best Options for Temporary Signs

Coroplast

No matter what your temporary signage needs are, we have a solution for you. Our favourite type of material for temporary signs is Coroplast. Coroplast is a corrugated cardboard with a plastic core, making it both lightweight and durable. It can be printed on either one or both sides and can also be made reflective to ensure visibility as the sun sets at an increasingly early hour.

One of the best things about Coroplast is how easy and versatile it is when it comes to putting signs up. Coroplast can easily be cut into arrows, diamonds and rectangular shapes.  Holes can be pre-drilled and reinforced with grommets, or nails can be used to secure these signs to walls, doors and stands. We’ve even seen them nailed to trees! Double-sided tape can also be used to affix them to flat surfaces. Our recommended method for setting up your temporary road sign is with a quad stand and a sandbag or two. It’s easy to set up and will fold flat, making it easy to transport and store your signs.

If all of that isn’t enough to convince you that Coroplast is the way to go when it comes to your temporary signs we’ve got one final point: Coroplast signs cost less than aluminium signs. Coloplast signs are the best way to free up funds for more important things like the 10L thermos of coffee or the 3 extra pairs of long underwear that are essential for working in those arctic conditions.


Other Options

There are other temporary signage options available of course. One great option is aluminium signs mounted on quad stands; they can be easily set up, moved, and stored over the summer, making them perfect for reusing each winter. Wooden A-frame sandwich boards also make great temporary signs and can be printed single or double-sided. These options are a little pricier than their Coroplast counterpart, but they do last longer and can be reused years to come.



If you’re looking for a quote or you’re  still unsure of the best solution for your temporary sign needs, get in touch. We’re always here to help.

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Holiday Charity Giveaway

One of the ways that we at IDENT love to show our gratitude to the people and communities that we work with across Western Canada is to make charitable donations to local causes and organizations throughout our different sales regions. This year, to celebrate our 35th year in business, we thought it would be great if you had a hand in helping us give away $3500 (5 donations of $700) this December.


The Process

In mid-November, we asked for your nominations for your favourite charity in each of our 5 sales districts (BC, Saskatchewan, Southern Alberta, Central Alberta, and Northern Alberta). We then took the most-nominated charities in each district and asked for your votes!


The Winners

Without further ado, here are the winners that YOU selected to receive donations as part of our Holiday Charity Giveaway:


Southern Alberta

Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter


Central Alberta

Alberta SPCA


Northern Alberta

The Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation


Saskatchewan

Kindersley Food Bank


BC

Fort St John Big Brothers Big Sisters


We want to say THANK YOU to everyone who helped us choose charities for our holiday giving, and an even bigger thank you for all of your continued support. 2017 was our 35th year in business and we couldn’t have done it without all of you!


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Putting a New Decal on an Existing Sign

While we always imagine our signs and decals spending eternity together, it often just doesn’t work out that way. Sometimes it’s that the decal is weathered and worn faster than the sign, or sometimes the information on the decal just needs to be updated. Whatever the reason, there are times when a perfectly good sign has a decal that just isn’t right for it anymore. Instead of tossing the whole thing, putting a new decal on an existing sign just makes more sense. 


Removing Decals

The first step to putting a new decal on an existing sign is to remove the old decal and any remaining adhesive. The difficulty and recommended method of doing this can change depending on the age and the deterioration of the current decal.

Applying New Decal Half and Half

Removing Newer, Fully Intact Decals

In situations where you are replacing a decal that is newer and fully intact, it is likely that you will be able to remove the decal in larger pieces. In this situation you would likely be able to use a chisel or exacto knife to lift a corner or edge of the decal and then pull on the decal to remove it. If possible, you should apply heat to the opposite side of the sign to help loosen the adhesive, making it easier to pull the decal from the sign.

Pro tip: You’ll have more success removing a decal if you are patient and work slowly. While it might be tempting to give a good yank once you make some progress, that’ll likely cause the decal to rip and set you back. Slow and steady definitely wins this race.

Removing Older, Weathered, and Cracked Decals

If the decal you’re trying to remove is old, weathered, and cracked things aren’t quite so straightforward. Trying to peel an edge and pull the decal off will more likely result in you grabbing a handful of your own hair and pulling that instead. In this situation you may want to opt for either a vinyl-removing product such as Vinyl Off or just skip straight to power tools.

Vinyl-Removing Products

Vinyl-removing products such as EZ Strip work help loosen the adhesive keeping the vinyl attached to the sign. You simply spray on the product, let it work its magic, and then peel, pull, or scrape the vinyl from the side. One benefit of using this type of product is that it helps remove a lot of the residual adhesive, making the second step of the process much shorter and easier. While these products are typically safe to use on metal, we recommend that you test on a small, inconspicuous area before putting it all over your sign.

Power Tools

If all else fails, reach for the power tools. Stripe Eliminator is an inexpensive urethane rubber wheel that attaches to a drill and can remove vinyl decals without burning or discolouring the material beneath. If you feel like making more of an investment you could purchase a tool specifically designed for vinyl removal and surface refinishing such as the MBX Vinyl Zapper, but if this isn’t something you find yourself doing often that’s probably unnecessary. These products are commonly used for removing decals from cars, so they should be fine to use safely on your sign, but we recommend you test a small area to make sure you have a grasp on how these tools work before getting carried away.

Clean Blank Sign

Removing Residual Adhesive

Before you can put a new decal on your old sign you need to make sure that all of the residual adhesive, from your previous decal has been removed and your surface has been thoroughly cleaned. There are plenty of products made specifically for removing adhesives and most of them work very well. If you’re looking for something easily accessible to help get the job done, you can use rubbing alcohol, or if you’re working outside or in a well-ventilated space you can even use gasoline.


Applying Your New Decal

Now that your old decal has been removed and your sign has been cleaned of all residual adhesive, dirt, or anything else that might have been on there, it’s time to apply your brand new decal. We’ve broken down the process into a few easy steps for you:

1. Line your decal up with the exact location you want to place it on your sign.

2. Lift a small portion of your decal from the paper backing. If you’re having trouble you can use an exacto knife to help gently lift the decal.

3. Adhesive side down, carefully place the lifted piece of the decal onto the sign. Make sure that it is exactly where it needs to be!

4. Slowly remove the backing from your decal, closely following along with a squeegee or other straight edge to avoid air pockets or bumps.

5. Repeat the process for all of the decals that need to be placed on your sign.



Fun fact: high quality, well-made signs sometimes outlive even the best vinyl decals. Not only is opting to replace the decal an inexpensive way to get more out of your investment in quality, but it also means less waste. If you have any questions about whether you should replace your whole sign or if a decal replacement would be sufficient, get in touch! Our team is always here to help you figure out what will work best for you.


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When to Replace Damaged, Old, or Weathered Oil and Gas Signs

We get a little nerdy when it comes to making sure that we’ve done all we can to prolong the life of the oil and gas signs we make. We’ve tested them under some of the harshest conditions we can recreate to ensure we are using the best materials, but it’s pretty much impossible to make a sign that lasts forever.

It can be tough trying to figure out when you need to replace oil and gas signs to ensure that they are still up to code, so we’re here to take some of the guesswork out of it for you.


Essential Signage Information

First, there are four pieces of information that must always be present and clearly visible on all regulated oil and gas signs

  1. Company Name/Logo
  2. Legal Subdivision (LSD) (lease signs)
  3. Product Name (pipeline signs) and/or Product Indicator (lease signs)
  4. Emergency Phone Number

If for any reason any of this information isn’t clearly visible on a sign, it’s time to add a new decal or replace the sign completely.


Physical Damage on Signs

Signs are built to withstand a lot, but there are some types of common damage that immediately require you to replace the sign.


Target Practice

If you’ve ever driven through a provincial recreation area in Western Canada you’ve likely seen signs with bullet holes that have been used for target practice. Sometimes those signs are oil and gas signs that have to be immediately replaced.


Vehicle Damage

One surprisingly common way that signs are damaged, or sometimes completely removed, is by farming equipment and vehicles. Given that a lot of these signs are located on or near farmland in the prairies, farmers are often maneuvering around them. Inevitably this means that sometimes the signs get taken out or damaged.


Weather Damaged Signs

weather damaged oil and gas signs - when to replace?

UV

Photodegradation is the process by which the sun’s UV radiation causes the chemical bonds in inks and dyes to break down, which causes colours to fade. We’ve put a lot of research and work into prolonging the life of our digitally printed signs to 5 years+, allowing us to comfortably position ourselves as industry leaders by offering warranties on our products.

The industry standard is from 3-5 years, but in the end, the sun always wins.

Wind

Anyone who’s ever had their weighted patio umbrella blow away is all too aware of how powerful a gust of wind can be. Now imagine the stress put on sign posts and hardware holding large signs in the middle of a field with wind gusts over 100 km/h. It’s not uncommon for the wind to shear signs straight off of their posts in particularly windy areas.


It is also important to make sure that the material used for signs is right for placement of the sign. For example, Aluminum Composite Panel (ACP) signs, which are often cheaper than all-metal signs, are best when the sign is smaller or it is placed on something solid like a wall. If you place a large ACP sign on a post in a field it can easily bend or break under pressure from the wind.

Blowing Dust or Sand

As if wind wasn’t bad enough, when it blows over dry ground it often picks up dust and sand that have an abrasive effect on signs. We recommend using a thicker laminate such as our Lexan Laminate to extend the life of signs in this type of environment.


Outdated Signs

Weathering and other damage are not the only reasons to update oil and gas signs. It is important that all information on a sign is up to date and accurate. If a well changes from sweet to sour gas, signs need to be updated accordingly.


Our Weather Testing Machine Puts Oilfield Signs to the Test

Here's an example of how our weather testing machine works. Below we compare an IDENT sign to a typical competitor. Basically, 498 hours in our weather testing machine is equal to 6 months - 1 year of outdoor exposure. You can see that our signs are designed and tested to last in Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan weather. We can customize to the particular region and we do to assure our clients are covered across Western Canada.


When to replace an oil and gas sign?


Is it time for you to replace a sign? Get in touch so we can discuss your options and make sure you get the best sign for your needs.

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5 Practices for Oil and Gas Production Facility Safety

Oil and gas production facilities are notoriously dangerous workplaces. Not only do you work with incredibly volatile substances, but you are often using highly specialized and dangerous tools and equipment as part of your job. In spite all of this, in 2016 mining and petroleum development had the lowest lost-time claim rate of any industry in Alberta at just 0.27.


While the industry may be dangerous by nature, both employers and employees work closely together to minimize risks. We’ve gathered 5 safety practices that oil and gas production facilities in Western Canada should be following.



1. Personnel Education and Training

Ignorance is definitely not bliss when it comes to oil and gas production facility safety. Making sure that all personnel are properly informed regarding safety policies and procedures can make a world of difference. Employees can’t do their part if they don’t know what their part is. It is common practice for employers to provide safety training decals to workers that they must wear on their hard hats once they have completed specific training. An employer is responsible for making sure that employees are familiar with both company policy and government regulations regarding things such as:

  • Facial hair and grooming.
  • Smoking, drinking, and drug use.
  • Wearing personal protective equipment.
  • Various workplace hazards, including physical, chemical & environmental hazards.
  • Proper procedures for using dangerous tools.
  • Be aware of and prepared for all emergency procedures.
  • Know when and how to opt-out of work for safety reasons.


2. First Aid

Despite everyone’s best efforts, accidents do happen. Having adequate staff trained in first aid, as well as having properly stocked and maintained first aid kits, is an essential component of oil and gas production facility safety. Everyone on site should be made aware of where the First Aid Kits and Eye-Wash Stations are located. An appropriate number of first aid trained employees should be on site at all times, and all employees should be aware of who those people are.



3. Alarms, Drills, & Extinguishers

Proper detection of harmful gases and smoke are critical to oil and gas production facility safety. In these environments, a small gas leak or fire can become a big problem very quickly. All employees must be trained in emergency procedures as well as the location, use and operation of emergency and fire protection equipment.


Fire and evacuation drills are also an essential part of employee training. At drilling rigs, drilling units and production facilities fire drills need to be completed at least once every two weeks. These drills should always be taken seriously and should help employees remain calm in the event of an actual fire. Muster Points should be clearly identified and the location mentioned to all visitors and staff on-site.


4. Lockout / Tagout Procedures

A lot of dangerous equipment is used in a production facility. Proper Lockout / Tagout procedures make activities such as erecting, installing, constructing, repairing, unjamming, cleaning, servicing and inspecting safe for the people responsible for performing the work.


Lockout is when you literally put a physical lock on the equipment to make sure that it is isolated from its power source. While locked out, a tag should be placed on the equipment that explains why the lockout/tag is required, the time the lock/tag was placed, and the name of the person who authorized it.  Each person doing the work should place their own lock on the equipment, and only that person should have a key to remove it to make sure that the lock/tag are not removed unsafely.


5. Proper Safety Signage

Making sure that things are sporting proper signage is a huge component of oil and gas production facility safety. Whether that means making sure that all of your signs are up to date (don’t forget to make sure you’re updated to WHMIS 2015 before the deadline!), aren’t too worn and faded, or simply that you have a sign everywhere you need to. Signs are by far the most blatant in-your-face safety precaution you can take and they’re required by law.



If you have any questions or concerns about the signs in your oil and gas production facility, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. It’s kind of our forte.

You can also check out our blog post on How to Prepare for an Oil and Gas Audit for examples of the types of signs and standards auditors look for.



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When Do I Have to Change My Signs Over to WHMIS 2015?

There is just under a year to the final changeover date for WHMIS2015, and you are probably a bit confused, right? Wondering what the timeline is for your business to be compliant and change over all your signage and labels?  Don’t worry, you’ve come to the right spot. We set out on a journey to compile and make sense of all the relevant dates and government requirements.

 

You’ve most likely heard a lot about WHMIS in Canada (WHMIS 2015) and its intention to unify with the Globally Harmonized System for Classifying and Labeling Chemicals (GHS) to create standard labeling across Europe, United States, and Canada – essentially be a single overarching international system.

 

The amended Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) legislation that was put forward by Health Canada in February 2015 has created alignment with GHS. However, there’s a transition period of about three years before the OHS code requirements will be fully enforced on a federal level. We now have a year left of that three year period. Nevertheless, it makes perfect sense to take action now and order products that are compliant, so you don’t have to order everything again to update them in the near future. You also have to switch over all your old WHMIS symbols, you can’t keep these outdated labels and signs. Now is the time to transition!

 

Here Are the High-level Federal Changes Regarding WHMIS 2015:

  1. Naming change of “Controlled Products” to “Hazardous Products”
  2. New and revised hazard classes
  3. New classification criteria
  4. New supplier labels (see below)
  5. New pictograms (see below)
  6. New 16-section product safety data sheets (SDSs)
  7. Requirement changes: SDSs don’t have to be updated every three years

 

Deadlines for Updating Your Signage to WHMIS 2015

  1. A.   Oilfield Manufacturers & Importers:

From June 1, 2018 to August 31, 2018

  1. B.   Oilfield Distributors:

From September 1, 2018 to November 30, 2018

  1. C.   Oilfield Employers:

On December 1, 2018

 

*These were pulled from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website. However, understand that requirements could vary. Reach out to your local jurisdiction for further details.

The transition period is to allow for time to switch everything with the old layouts already in existence over. By December 2018 everything must be in place for the new system. This date encompasses manufacturers, importers, distributors, and employers. These Changes won’t affect well site, pipeline or TDG regulations, it ONLY affects WHMIS controlled products.

 

Employer Requirements

Employers are responsible for protecting the health, safety, and well-being of their workers. Therefore, they must assure that all staff are adequately educated on both WHMIS 1988 and WHMIS 2015 if they’re utilizing both systems in the workplace. The transition period provides ample time for employers to fulfill this legal obligation and to update their workplace safety program. Learn more about employer requirements below!

Remember you need new labels, safety data sheets, plus updated worker education and training.

 

 

Looking for further information on the WHMIS 2015 Transition?

  • Check out Canada’s National WHMIS Portal (whmis.org)
  • Connect with IDENT’s oilfield signage experts for WHMIS compliant ordering assistance. We’re up to speed on British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan compliance and requirements. Call 1-800-661-1919
  • Changes to WHMIS Legislation in Alberta (work.alberta.ca/documents/OHS-Bulletin).

 

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Earth Day: Evolution of IDENT and The Printing Industry

Earth Day has left a long-standing legacy; this widespread environmental movement has been around since 1970. Now that’s dedication! April 22nd marks the annual day where people join forces around the world to push forward various causes and initiatives that impact our local communities and global climate change.

IDENT has identified a number of ways to lower our carbon footprint and assure the products we use internally don’t negatively affect our people’s health or the environment. Everything is considered from printing method (we’re a digital printer), digital ordering and fulfillment systems, eco appliances, high-efficiency lighting, to basic recycling. However, as with most stories like this, it didn’t happen overnight. Our journey was more of an evolution that took shape over the past few decades.

How have printing practices evolved in the industry and at IDENT? 

Screen Printing

Screen printing was the be all and end all. However, it meant printing with solvent inks which had VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), which are really nasty and toxic, similar to lead found in paints. You recall the beautiful high gloss finishes in your kitchens and bathrooms? They sure were beautiful, but super toxic. The use of solvent-based inks wasn’t conducive to a healthy work environment; screen printers dealt with it for many centuries due to its longevity, suitability for many surfaces and strength of colours. Most workers would be high from the fumes even with the proper ventilation in place.

During the late 70’s, California had a big push around getting rid of the toxic solvents for environmental and health reasons as VOC’s are large contributors to smog. They pressured and protested the chemical industry to make a shift, which fortunately paid off.

Believe it or not, there are still traditional solvent-based screen printers operating in rural communities today.

 

Digital UV (Ultraviolet) Printing

Digital started with solvent-based inks, but it quickly moved to UV inks once the industry could overcome some of its initial shortcomings. Digital UV printing is a more environmentally friendly solution, and it has vibrant colours and consistency. Similar to the toner in printers, you can vacuum seal and recycle the empty ink packages and cartridges. Now the only Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) concern employers have is assuring basic ventilation since there are very limited to no VOC's in these inks making them printer and environment-friendly.

UV curing inks are essentially all solids with virtually no solvent. The curing happens with a chemical reaction that creates a bond between molecules; it dries instantly under the exposure of UV light (instead of air drying). With no solvent to evaporate into the air, there are no VOC’s being released either.

However, with all these advantages, there are also disadvantages. It took off slowly because the outdoor durability of the product wasn’t as good. Most industry professionals originally felt we could only produce indoor posters, but that we couldn’t use it outdoors for any length of time.

 

What does IDENT do to minimize its carbon footprint 

IDENT always wanted to ensure that our #1 focus was taking care of our people and with that came our desire for keeping their health and safety top of mind, which in turn also meant environmentally conscious processes throughout the company.

 

Digital Office

Project e-dent kicked off in January 2011 – it was our push to move from a paper-based office to fully digital, we had identified the scope of the project, the risks, the strategy and launched all the phases making us entirely digital on July 28th, 2011. We went from a paper heavy environment: imagine having docket after docket with the appropriate job specs that migrated across the full lifecycle of each order, to a paper-free operation.  We removed all paper communication and documentation across the company in order to increase efficiency. Our team had lots of fun with the company-wide project; we used  potato chip flavors like Salt n’ Vinegar & Dill Pickle as our milestone code names and celebrated achieving them by handing out chips of that type on the day 

For our Town Hall that year we conservatively estimated saving one tree per employee per year (average worker 10,000 pieces of paper a year – a tree produces approximately 8,333 pieces of paper), so from July 28th, 2011 to December 31st, 2016 we’ve saved 176 trees!

 

Energy Efficient Office Décor

We installed modern eco high efficiency LED lighting, automatic thermostats, and low water high-efficiency toilets. We also chose a building that had low ceilings to reduce our heating needs.

 

Working Remote

Our front office staff is encouraged to work from home 2-3 days a week in order to give them more flexibility and eliminate their need to drive to the office as much, which also lowers our overall carbon footprint.

 

Printing & Responsible Disposal of By-Products

We are a digital print shop which is significantly more environmentally friendly, as discussed above. Now, we simply have to recycle printing cartridges, similar to home printers, just bigger.

Back in 2001 IDENT purchased its first UV press for the company. We were early adopters in transitioning to the latest technology. Our production was leading edge, especially in Alberta, where everyone else was still solvent based in the area (due to equipment costs). Many of our clients were used to our products lasting 10 years outdoors and then with UV screen printing it went down to two years, let's just say there were lots of lessons to be learned along the way.

We started to look for solutions on how we could give this new printing method more longevity and life. We began with an overlaminate film. IDENT tested 20+ products vigorously until we found just the right product. But being the obsessive perfectionists we are, we kept searching for better products, until we discovered a different UV process called liquid lamination. We discovered this product from traveling to tradeshows, many of which were outside our field. This new overlay provided us the ability to offer a 5-year warranty.

 

Recycling

We have a recycling program for aluminum, bottles, plastics, cardboard, and the minimal mixed paper we use. We take care in how we pack our shipments in order to minimize the need for packing supplies.

We've always embraced being ahead of the curve and leading with technology, even at the expense of initial profit. We will always adopt the latest greatest technology and advances in the signage printing industry.


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