Workplace Safety Signs and When To Use Them

Herbert Post October 03, 2021 3 min read

Workplace safety signs are part of ensuring everyone’s safety in a workplace. Some hazards cannot really be entirely eliminated, therefore, employers should do their part to minimize or prevent individuals from being exposed to these hazards. Having safety 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 refer to. OSHA safety signs have different visual specifications than 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 on orange background

    Notice Signs

    They indicate possible property or equipment damage and provide 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. The 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 some of these hazards 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 and properly respond 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

    Safety Warning Sign


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    Author: Herbert Post

    VP Global Compliance at Barron Short Companies LTD. Born in the Philadelphia area and raised in Houston in 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


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