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Sign Standards and Resources


In the workplace, signs are an invaluable source of information which often play a large part in accident prevention. Accident prevention signs must conform to the standards set forth by the Occupational Health and Saftey Administration (OSHA), American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and any state and local regulations. We recommend that you review OSHA standard 1910.144 and ANSI Z535 standards to fully understand the requirements. We have provided here a list of recommended guidelines to be followed based on the aforementioned standards.

Sign Size

The wording on any sign should be concise and easy to read. The size of the lettering must be as large as possible for the intended viewing distance. Minimum letter height for the signal word (Danger, Caution, Notice, etc.) shall be one unit of height for every 150 units of safe viewing distance. Minimum letter height for other words on the sign shall be one unit of height for every 300 units of safe viewing distance (ANSI Z535.2-1998).

Minimum Letter Height Viewing Distance
0.25" 6.25'
0.50" 12.5'
0.75" 18.75'
1.00" 25.00'
1.50" 37.50'
2.00" 50.00'
2.50" 62.50'

Sign Placement

The standards for sign placement are set forth by ANSI Z535 standards.

  • Signs must be placed to alert and inform employees of hazards in sufficient time to avoid the hazard and take appropriate action. Employees should not be in harm's way before seeing the sign.
  • Signs must be placed so that they are legible, do not create a distraction, and are not a hazard in themselves.
  • Signs must not be placed on moveable objects or adjacent to moveable objects like doors, windows etc., which if moved will obscure the sign.
  • Where illumination may be necessary under emergency conditions, the signs should be equipped with emergency (battery operated) illumination or be reflective or both.

Color Coding

OSHA has specific requirements for marking physical hazards:

  • Red shall be the basic color used to mark
    • Fire protection equipment and apparatus
    • Safety cans or other portable containers of flammable liquids, excluding shipping containers. These shall be painted red with some additional clearly visible identification either in the form of a yellow band around the can or the name of the contents conspicuously stenciled or painted on the can (can should also be labeled in accordance with 1910.1200).
    • Stop, emergency stop bars, hazardous machines, stop buttons and other electrical switches used for emergency stopping.
  • Yellow shall be the basic color for designating caution and for marking physical hazards, such as striking against, stumbling, falling, and getting caught in-between.

ANSI standards for safety color coding are:

  • Safety Red identifies Danger and Stop.
  • Safety Orange identifies dangerous parts of machines or energized equipment.
  • Safety Yellow designates caution. Solid yellow, yellow and black stripes, or yellow and black checkers must be used for maximum contrast with the particular background.
  • Safety Green designates safety, emergency egress, and the location of first aid and safety equipment.
  • Safety Blue identifies safety information used on informational signs and bulletin boards.
  • Safety Purple is not yet assigned.
  • Safety Gray is not yet assigned.
  • Safety Black, Safety White, Safety Yellow or combinations of Safety Black with Safety White or Safety Yellow are used to designate traffic or housekeeping markings.