Types of safety signs

Updated July 20, 2017

Safety signs are everywhere you look: under the sink, on appliances and on the road. The main purpose of a safety sign is to caution the viewer when a hazard or potential for danger exists. When travelling, you are likely to see several dozen different types of safety signs along roads and highways. Most safety signs are symbol based, allowing for rapid recognition when driving or reading quickly.

Biological Hazard Signs

Biohazard or biological hazard signs have black abstract figures on a black or yellow background. These signs caution the viewer that a substance is present which presents a danger to living things. Frequently you will see biohazard signs on needle-disposal bins at your doctor's office and tattoo parlours, and near chemical plants.

Poison Signs

The internationally recognised symbol for poisonous or toxic substances is a skull and crossbones. Many household cleaners bear this symbol due to the inclusion of dangerous poisons in solvents and detergents. Many automobile maintenance products also contain poisons.

Road Signs

Dozens of road signs exist, some common enough to be seen every day, while others are reserved for more rare situations. Several common road safety signs are the red and white "Do Not Enter" signs denoting one way traffic, the railroad crossing sign with a large black "X" in the middle, the red and white "yield" sign instructing drivers to yield the right-of-way and the "Slippery When Wet" sign, with swerving lines trailing behind a vehicle.

Community Safety Signs

Several road signs focus less on drivers and more on the rest of the community. Yield to pedestrians and pedestrian-crossing signs are fluorescent yellow, while regulatory signs, like "Sidewalk Closed Ahead" notices are typically white. Signs that account for blind or deaf residents are typically text based, rather than symbol based.

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About the Author

Based in New York City, Lindsey Parker has been a freelance writer since 2007. Her writing has appeared on eHow and Education 4 Everyone. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Maryland and a Master of Science in education from Pace University.