A Small Business Guide To Equipment Labelling

Last Updated: 

February 9, 2024

Unexpected equipment failures, safety accidents, inefficient operations, and violations threaten small businesses daily. Proper labelling prevents these pitfalls through clear equipment identification, hazard warnings, and maintenance tracking. While sometimes overlooked, labelling is a low-cost way to protect staff, customers, and the business from potential risks and liabilities. 

In this guide, we'll walk you through easy methods for labelling equipment in your small business. We'll discuss its importance and provide straightforward steps to make the business run smoothly through proper labelling to enhance workplace safety.

Key Takeaways on Equipment Labelling 

  1. Safety First: Proper equipment labelling is a cost-effective strategy to enhance workplace safety, preventing accidents, injuries, and potential liabilities. Clear labels serve as an integral part of safety management, protecting staff and customers.
  2. Efficiency Through Organisation: Logical and consistent labelling improves operational efficiency. Workers can quickly locate equipment, reducing downtime and optimising productivity. Well-labelled assets contribute to a streamlined and organised work environment.
  3. Accountability and Maintenance: Equipment labels facilitate tracking for maintenance and inspections, promoting transparency and proper care of assets. This accountability ensures that equipment is well-maintained, contributing to longevity and reliability.
  4. Regulatory Compliance: Meeting labelling regulations is crucial to avoid fines, legal issues, and business shutdowns. Prioritising proper labelling demonstrates a commitment to safety and compliance, mitigating risks associated with non-compliance.
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Why Proper Labelling Matters

Proper equipment labelling should be a priority for any small business for safety, organisation, accountability, and regulatory compliance.

  • Safety: Effective warning labels prevent workplace injuries and accidents involving customers. This avoids liability lawsuits, insurance issues, settlements, and reputation damage. Proper labelling is an important part of safety management.
  • Organisation: Logical labelling improves efficiency. Workers can quickly find equipment and keep it in the proper location. This optimises operations and productivity.
  • Accountability: Equipment labels enable tracking for maintenance and inspections. This transparency promotes proper care and upkeep of assets.
  • Compliance: Meeting labelling rules avoids fines, legal issues, and shutdowns. Proper labelling shows a company prioritises safety and regulations. The effort to comply is insignificant compared to the risks of non-compliance.

Step-By-Step Guide To Equipment Labelling

Follow these steps to establish an effective equipment-labelling system for your small business:

Step 1: Create An Equipment Inventory

Start by building a comprehensive inventory of all the equipment used in your business. This list includes tools, machinery, computers, and other assets. Each item must have a unique identification number or code. It’s important to label equipment for tracking purposes.

In relation to tracking purposes, list down the manufacturer’s name as well. In the event of missing or stolen equipment, the manufacturer can help trace serial numbers to identify the proper owner.

Step 2: Create A Label Template And Design

Decide on a clear and consistent label design. Ensure its size is enough to carry relevant information, such as the equipment’s name/description, identification/serial number, and date of purchase/maintenance.

Use ANSI colour coding or other colour systems to make visual identification quicker. Red, orange, and yellow can indicate hazards or warnings. For low-light areas, consider using glow-in-the-dark or reflective labels.

Step 3: Print The Label

Printing the labels in durable materials—such as laminated paper, plastic, or metal tags—works best. Make sure the labels are sized appropriately for the equipment. 

a line of equipment within a small business

Step 4: Apply The Labels

Before applying the labels, clean the equipment’s surface to remove dirt, dust, and oil so the label adheres properly. Label the front and back of equipment that can be accessed from multiple sides.

Step 5: Add Labels To A Master List

As soon as the label is attached to the equipment, it must be logged into a master list for documentation and quick reference in the future.

Step 6: Conduct Periodic Audits

Educate employees about the label meanings and the importance of paying attention to labels. Have routine maintenance for inspecting, replacing, updating, and standardising labels across equipment. Utilise labelling software or hire consultants as needed.

Types Of Equipment Labels

There are different types of labels. No matter what label you use, a label improves operations if implemented well. However, if your business is now into automation, here are the different labels you can use for your small business:

  1. Barcodes: Barcodes use parallel lines in unique combinations. Handheld scanners are used to read the codes. A barcode is one of the easiest labels to implement at a low cost. Just print and attach it to the equipment. It is ideal for inventory management in any organisation.
  2. RFID Tags: RFID tags are microchips with antennas. Scanners read data remotely without close contact. They are helpful in businesses with warehouses or those in the retail industry, as they enable mass scanning of products. However, they are more expensive than other options and require regular battery replacement. 
  3. QR Codes: QR codes use square pixel patterns. They can be scanned through mobile devices. They are suitable for employees at designated sites, as they can easily be accessed. They are a modern alternative to barcodes.


Implementing an effective equipment labelling system pays off in the long run. Proper identification and warning tags enhance workplace safety. They also improve efficiency, organisation, accountability, and regulatory compliance. 

The implementation of equipment labelling outlined in this article will aid small businesses in applying long-lasting, consistent labels. With a thoughtful labelling system, companies can focus on their core work, knowing assets and people are secure. Being proactive about safety and compliance through quality labelling ultimately supports the growth and success of any small business.

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