Industrial Safety Color Codes

Written by michael montecalvo
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Industrial Safety Color Codes
This sign is required by OSHA, but the colours are defined by ANSI. (danger warning image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com)

The American National Standards Institute has identified specific "safety" colours for industry. These colours mark equipment, have specific meanings and uses, and mark safety signs in specific configurations.

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Industry Color Standard

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and ANSI have a generalised colour code for industry. The National Fire Protection Association, U.S. Department of Transportation and others all recognise colour coding for specific signage or placards, but it is all based on the ANSI Z535 Safety Alerting Standards.

Industrial Safety Color Codes
This sign is required by OSHA, but the colours are defined by ANSI. (danger warning image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com)

Red and Orange

Red and orange indicate danger. Red indicates fire protection equipment, alarm boxes and extinguishers, and emergency shutoff switches on machinery. Orange marks dangerous parts of machinery, so anything that cuts, crushes, pinches or will cause injury should be orange.

Industrial Safety Color Codes
Colours bring attention to danger of injury or death. (danger image by max blain from Fotolia.com)

Yellow and Black

Yellow indicates caution and is used to mark hazards. Storage cabinets for paints, gasoline cans, other flammable liquids and explosives are yellow. Yellow and black together bring attention to a particular hazard by being visually striking.

Industrial Safety Color Codes
Caution colours warn of hazards. (road edge marker image by leemarusa from Fotolia.com)

Green

Green is the colour of safety. Personal protective equipment, first-aid kits, eyewash and emergency shower locations are marked in green.

Industrial Safety Color Codes
Safety signs have a green background with white lettering and symbols. (sign. first aid sign image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com)

Blue

Blue is widely used in railroad operations to indicate a warning. In general industry, blue is used to provide information. Information signs have a blue background with white lettering and symbols.

Industrial Safety Color Codes
Needed information is provided in blue. (safety helments sign image by green 308 from Fotolia.com)

Misconceptions

Even though ANSI has provided a colour code for industry, it is not a mandatory standard. Specific trades and safety organisations may have their own colour codes.

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