What Do Safety Sign Colors Mean?

May 23, 2019
By Glauber Berenson Vego

As a California worker, you have likely been instructed on how to keep an eye out for possible danger in the workplace. To help their workers maintain proper vigilance, jobsite management will often erect safety signs to warn employees about dangerous spots and hazards. You can usually tell how severe the danger is just by looking at the color of the sign.

Per Safestart, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that safety signs be designated by certain colors depending on the severity of the hazard. Certain hazards may only present a minor threat of an injury, or injury may result if a worker engages in unsound work practices. In these situations, the workplace will erect a yellow colored sign as a warning.

As the hazard level rises, the colors will change. In some instances, a worker needs to steer clear of a hazardous situation or risk a serious injury, possibly even death. These kinds of scenarios warrant an orange colored sign. If the hazard is severe enough that it presents an immediate possibility of severe harm or death, OSHA requires a workplace to place a red colored sign as a notice. If a biological danger is present, a red-orange or fluorescent orange sign will be used.

You might have seen other colored signs in the workplace, like a green sign or a blue sign. Generally, these are not hazard signs and are geared to provide certain types of information. Blue signs can communicate company procedures, directions to rooms, or mark the location of bathrooms. Green signs are meant to convey safety information, such as where medical supplies may be found, or where to wash your hands. Notice signs may come in white and convey information that does not relate to personal injury.

Since red and orange colors more readily grab the human eye, these colors are frequently used to warn of danger, so if you see one, it is a good bet that trouble may be close by. Because workplace accidents take many forms, do not read this article as legal counsel. It is only intended for educational benefit.