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Industrial Safety Color Codes

Updated July 19, 2017

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.

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.

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.

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.

Green

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

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.

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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About the Author

Michael Montecalvo began writing in 1986 while serving as a firefighter and paramedic. He has written basic EKG interpretation texts published in-house and numerous commentary about fire and EMS vehicle operations on various trade sites. Montecalvo is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in management at Kaplan University.