How well do employees know the meaning of the colors used for safety signs and tags in your workplace? Although red is associated with danger in nearly everyone’s mind, the warnings indicated by other colors might not be so obvious to all workers. That’s why OSHA requires color coding — and why you need to train your employees in recognizing the meaning of these signs at a glance.
Here are the most common codes:
- Red = Danger. OSHA recommends using red, or predominantly red, for danger signs or tags, with lettering or symbols in a contrasting color (usually white against the red background). Red is also used for fire apparatus and equipment, safety containers for flammables, and safety devices such as switches for emergency stopping of machinery, stop bars, and buttons.
- Yellow = Caution. These signs and tags are all yellow, or predominantly yellow, with lettering or symbols in a contrasting color (usually black). Yellow is often used for physical dangers such as slipping, tripping, falling, striking against, and pinch points.
- Orange = Warning. These orange, or predominantly orange, signs and tags generally have black lettering or symbols. Orange is often used for potentially dangerous parts of machinery or equipment that might cut, crush, shock, or otherwise injure a person.
- Fluorescent Orange/Orange-Red = Biological Hazard. These signs and tags have lettering or symbols in a contrasting color (usually black). This color designates infectious agents and wastes that pose a risk of death, injury, or illness.
- Green = Safety Instructions. These signs usually have white lettering against the green background. Some part of the sign might also contain black lettering against a white background. Green is used to designate first-aid equipment, emergency eyewash stations, and so forth.
- Fluorescent Yellow-Orange. This color is used, with a dark red reflective border for triangular signs on slow-moving vehicles.