Safety Signs and When To Use Them

October 03, 2021 3 min read

Workplace safety signs are part of enforcing everyone’s safety in a workplace. Some hazards cannot really be entirely eliminated, so people should do their part to minimize or prevent the consequences of being exposed to these hazards. Havingsafety signages in strategic places will help people be more aware so that they can take extra precautions to protect themselves.

What are safety signs?

A safety sign is a visual tool providing information about:

  • Health and safety protocols that must be followed in a workplace
  • Presence of hazards that people should watch out for
  • The location of safety-related objects such as exits, fire extinguishers, and more

Health and safety signs can contain text only, symbols only (also known as safety signboards), or both. A safety sign must be posted in risky areas, by emergency evacuation routes, near dangerous machinery, and wherever it is needed based on the assessment of a safety manager. However, these signages are not a replacement for safety training.

Types of Safety Signs

Safety signs are color and word-coded based on the severity of hazards they aim to refer to. OSHA safety signs have different visual specifications as ANSI but both standards are taken into account when choosing the most appropriate safety signage in a workplace.

Danger Signs

Use them in areas with an immediate hazard that can cause serious injury or even death if special precautions are not taken.

Colors: Red, white, and black

Caution Signs

They are appropriate in areas where the presence of a minor hazard or unsafe work practices can result in a minor or moderate injury.

Colors: Yellow background where black letters are printed. The panel is black.

Warning Signs

Use them in areas where death or severe injury may happen . This is in contrast with danger signs which must be posted in areas where death or severe injury is very likely to happen if proper precautions are not taken.

Colors: Black text in orange background

Notice Signs

They indicate possible property or equipment damage, giving general information not related to personal injury. Information can be about practices, operating instructions, rules, procedures, and more.

Colors: “NOTICE” text in white, italicized font on blue background. Body has blue or black text on a white background or white text on black background.

Safe Condition Signs

Also known as general safety signs, they offer safety-related messages without referring to any hazards. They are used to point out emergency eye wash stations, first aid kits, safety routes, and more. These signs can also be used to encourage employees to report unsafe conditions as well as motivate them to be extra mindful of general hazards.

Colors: White text on a green background. If the sign comes with a header, the main text should be black printed on a white background.

The chart below shows which safety sign must be used based on the severity of a hazard it aims to indicate:

osha ansi safety signs


Why are safety signs important in the workplace?

Supplementing Safety

Safety signs in the workplace usually feature illustrations with accompanying text either explicitly mentioning the hazard or giving instruction specific to the hazard. This visual communication tool is color coded in line with OSHA 1910.145 Specifications for accident prevention signs and tags. Well-placed signage gives information and awareness to a person at a glance. 

Highlighting Safe Work Methods

In any workplace, employees are exposed to certain hazards that are part of their work. Since these cannot be eliminated, employers must use signages to remind employees of the best safety practices they should do. Moreover, signs can indicate the location of safety essentials such as emergency exits and first aid kits. This way, people can quickly respond properly in case of an emergency.


Complying with legal requirements is one of the most important responsibilities of an employer. No matter how good a company’s health and safety programs are, if there are no proper signages around, it can face regulatory fines and reputation damage. After all, who would want to work with a company that neglects safety compliance? Even customers or clients won’t feel safe transacting with such a company.

Safety Signs and Symbols

Here are some of the safety signs you might notice around you. Since most of these signs contain images and text, you can easily understand them at a glance:

Construction Safety Signs

construction safety sign




COVID-19 Safety Signs

COVID-19 safety signs


Workplace Safety Signs

workplace safety signs




Site Safety Signs

site safety signs




Fire Safety Signs

fire signs




Smoking Signs

smoking signs




Exit Signs

exit signs


Safety Warning Signs

warning signs



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Herbert Post

Born in the Philadelphia area and raised in Houston by a family who was predominately employed in heavy manufacturing. Herb took a liking to factory processes and later safety compliance where he has spent the last 13 years facilitating best practices and teaching updated regulations. He is married with two children and a St Bernard named Jose. Herb is a self-described compliance geek. When he isn’t studying safety reports and regulatory interpretations he enjoys racquetball and watching his favorite football team, the Dallas Cowboys.


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