Caution, Warning and Danger Signs Explained

Workplace safety signage is required by law. All organizations, from international companies to small businesses, are legally responsible for knowing the risks, effectively communicating these risks with all employees, and complying with all safety regulations, specific to their industries, as set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is responsible for setting the standards and guidelines for proper workplace safety signage that is enforced by OSHA. There are three key standards that specify the design and content of safety signs.

Safety Headers | Signal Words

A SAFETY HEADER or signal word, including danger, warning, caution, notice, or specific safety instructions, is determined by the degree of the potential hazard.

Safety Symbols

SAFETY SYMBOLS or pictograms effectively communicate across language barriers, providing visual alerts about hazards, precautions, or other necessary information.

Sign Legends

SIGN LEGENDS must accurately communicate the hazard the sign is warning of.

Safety Instruction Signs

SAFETY INSTRUCTION SIGNS are used to relay general instructions and suggestions as they relate to safety measures. Safety instruction signs must include a green panel with white letters and a white background. All letters printed on the white background must be black.

Caution Signs

CAUTION signifies that a minor or moderate injury may occur. These signs warn of potential physical injuries caused by slips or falls, harmful substances, or other unsafe practices. All caution signs must have a bright yellow background and yellow letters against a black panel.

 

Warning Signs

WARNING signifies that serious injury or death MAY occur. ‘WARNING’ text must be printed in black letters on an orange background. These signs may also include a bright blue graphic depicting a safety precaution that should be taken in a specific area.

 

X-Ray Radiation Warning Sign

Danger Signs

DANGER signifies that serious injury or death is VERY LIKELY to occur. These signs should only be posted in areas where there is potentially deadly harm from dangerous equipment or other environmental hazards, such as radiation, high voltage, or hazardous fumes, among others. Danger signs must be red, black, and white, and include ‘DANGER’ printed in white lettering on a red, oval shaped background. OSHA requires that all employees be made aware that danger signs indicate immediate danger and extreme caution must be used in the area at all times.

 

High Voltage Sign

Notice Signs

NOTICE SIGNS signify lower risk areas and can also promote safety in the workplace or other public areas. These signs generally display rules such as ‘please wash hands’ or ‘keep this area clean’. Notice signs also are used for distinguishing areas designated as ‘employees only’ and other low risk designations. Notice signs are blue and white.

 

Keep Area Clean Sign

Safety Alert Symbol

The universal SAFETY ALERT SYMBOL is a yellow triangle, outlined in black, containing an exclamation point. This symbol is only used on caution, warning, and danger signs, labels, or tags.

 

 

Customsigns.com is your resource for ready made or design your own workplace safety signs. Our Customer Focus Team is here to answer your questions and help you determine proper signage needs for your organization.

For more information about workplace safety, please see our related blog posts:

The Importance of Understanding OSHA and Displaying Proper Signage for Workplace Safety

The Importance of OSHA Signs for Construction Sites

OSHA’s National Youth Safety Initiative

 

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