The ANSI Z535 series is a set of standards used for standardizing safety signs, hazard identification, and accident prevention information. It is a set of six standards that cover the symbols, formatting, colors, and wording for safety signs, and includes a separate published document called the ANSI Z535 Safety Color Chart.
ANSI periodically reviews and refreshes standards and in the most recent review of ANSI Z535, all standards were affirmed save for the current version of the safety colors standard: ANSI Z535.1-2017. The big shift of ANSI Z535.1-2017 was the harmonization of the ANSI system with the ISO 3864-4 standard. Definitions and terms were both added to the revised standard to give the user a better understanding of the references used throughout it. ANSI also added more emphasis on how a color’s appearance can be affected and what may cause it to fall outside the acceptable tolerance limit.
Along with this update came a significant overhaul to the Safety Color Chart, seen on the right. The goal was to have a chart that was user friendly and easy to understand. The chart provides a sample of the color, the color’s ink formulation, and the closest Pantone number using the Pantone Matching System. The Pantone colors listed in the Z535 standard is not the end all be all of the color-coding system and ANSI has specified a window of tolerance that defines the acceptable ranges in hue, value, and saturation. Additionally, the newly updated Safety Color Chart no longer features Safety Brown or Safety Gray, as ANSI does not consider them to be hazard alerting colors for accident prevention.
The six colors identified in the ANSI Safety Color Chart and their corresponding meanings/uses are as follows:
Red: Used for danger signs, flammable liquids, fire protection equipment emergency stop buttons, etc.
Orange: Used for warning signs and an indication of energized machines or equipment.
Yellow: Used for caution signs and alerts of physical hazards.
Green: Indicates first aid equipment and safety information.
Blue: Used for property policies, facility standards, and any other information that is not directly safety related.
Purple: User-defined – a manager can assign this color as they see fit in their facility.