A Guide to OSHA Safety Colors and ANSI Color Codes for Workplace Safety

Written By:  Print Runner  | Article Date: May 30, 2024

Safety colors signify specific safety guidelines and they help mitigate potential hazards in the workplace. The role of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) are to implement these rules and guidelines so that the right colors are used to indicate specific warning, danger, and other safety signs correctly. Read on to learn about safety colors’ assigned meanings and how to implement them in your workplace while abiding OSHA’s and ANSI’s requirements.

OSHA Color-Coding Requirements

OSHA enforces signage color requirements for business owners to roll out in their respective workplaces, improve onsite safety, and reduce accidents. With proper application of these warning signs and their corresponding colors, you can communicate clearly the safety hazards that may occur even when seen from afar and with the help of visual elements alone.

  • Red is used for danger signs warning of the immediate life and health risk of an employee. The lettering or symbols on the sign must contrast with the red so people can readily see them.
  • Orange is for warning signs that indicate a risk that may not be as severe or as immediate as a red danger sign. The symbols or letters should be in a color that contrasts orange.
  • Yellow is usually seen on caution signs alerting people of a potential risk.
  • Fluorescent orange or orange red applied to biohazard dangers.

Other colors inform of specific physical hazards:

  • Red is for fire-related hazards in the area, such as those near open flames or inflammable materials likely explode or ignite.
  • Yellow is applicable for signs that inform people about risks such as falling, slipping, tripping, striking, pinch points, and other similar risks common in manufacturing or warehouse facilities.

ANSI Safety Colors Guide

ANSI, unlike OSHA, is a non-government organization and doesn’t have any enforcement powers. However, ANSI’s color code for safety is followed throughout the US and in different countries around the world. Here are their different color meanings that hold a facility’s employees accountable for safe behavior:

  • Red is the dominant color on safety signs, labels, and other objects signifying danger or alerts telling people to stop.
  • Orange warns people of dangerous equipment pieces or machine parts. The orange signs warn of dangers from a cut, crush, shock hazard, or any other hazards that can physically harm people or the facility.
  • Yellowwarns about risks like falling, tripping, hearing damage, getting burned, getting caught in a pinch point, and other common hazards present in an area or equipment.
  • Blue offers information and suggestions about a specific location or item that isn’t necessarily safety-related.
  • Green alerts people of emergency egress, like the directions to escape areas. It’s also used to identify the location of first aid and other safety equipment.
  • Black and white or a combination of these colors show the direction of traffic and housekeeping practices in a warehouse or facility that help improve overall safety.

Below is a complete summary of the color codes and rules under ANSI and OSHA:

Color Guide

Effectively Implementing Safety Colors in Your Business Facility

Now that you know what warnings every safety color signifies, you can assess your business facility and review how to improve risk mitigation practices around equipment and every working area. Remember to keep all signs visible in their designated locations or on the equipment it’s displayed on. It should also last as a long-term display and withstand elements such as moisture and heat.

You should also take into consideration extremely loud noises in certain facilities. Working in a loud environment may make it hard for coworkers hear each other, so make sure the text and information on the sign contrast and are visible against the dominant color. It’s also recommended that you get glow-in-the-dark printed signs for areas that get dark during a power outage or closing hours so that they remain visible during these times.

Customize Your Safety Signs Today

Once you’ve evaluated the signage, applicable colors, and their respective locations that you need at your workplace, you can customize the best signs at PrintRunner. You can find everything you need here — from highly visible, long-lasting aluminum signs, reflective adhesive vinyl you can see at night, to all kinds of signs for your various needs. Explore the different signs you can create with the correct ANSI and OSHA colors for your facility with PrintRunner today.