#59 Safety Signs

Signs at work provide us with visual symbols and information that reinforce the safety codes. Without them, employees might be unaware of dangers to their health and safety. There are color standards used in signs and labels, and some indicate more than one hazard. Learn what these different colors mean, they are also sending a safety message.


Red warns of fire and extreme danger. Red also calls attention to emergency stop bars, stop buttons, or switches on hazardous machines. Orange marks dangerous parts on machines or energized equipment. It also indicates the potential hazards of gears, belts, enclosures, or other guards. Yellow means caution. It warns of the possibility of a stumble, fall, trip, or pinch point. Green indicates safety equipment other than fire-fighting apparatus, which is red. Purple warns of radiation hazards from x-ray, alpha, beta, gamma, and neutron sources. When you look around, you may be surprised how many colored signs there are in your workplace. What about the red sign identifying a fire exit, or the red sign located above a fire extinguisher? How about that green sign telling you where the first aid kit is located; the yellow caution signs telling you to watch your step; and the yellow and black caution tape that marks a perimeter around a hazard?


Another type of sign sends the message through a pictogram. Pictograms have been developed to provide more effective communication, easy recognition of a particular hazard and to also warn non-English speaking workers of hazards.


Signs and rules are designed to warn you of potential hazards and often explain how to protect yourself. If you don’t understand what they mean, ask your supervisor. Pay attention to all of the signs you see. You see some signs so often that you don’t notice them anymore. Look for them, read them again and heed their warnings! Also, check with your supervisor about your employers specific color codes.