What does it mean to have OSHA/ANSI compliant signs?

OSHA has long referenced the ANSI Z535 series as the compliance standard for signs in the workplace. Safety signs used to alert workers of hazardous situations and communicate any important information. A facility will need pipe markers, safety signs to mark hazards, first aid signs, fire equipment signs, and more. As the standard organization, ANSI has developed criteria regarding the color, format, and text of a signs.

OSHA/ANSI compliant sign

According to the ANSI Z535 standard, a sign should consist of a combination of the following four elements:

  • Safety alert symbol: This symbol should be used when personal risk is present only, not when there is risk of property or equipment damage.
  • Signal word: A singular word printed at the top of signs and is meant to communicate quickly the gist of the sign. Signal words include DANGER, WARNING, CAUTION, NOTICE, and SAFETY.
  • Symbols: Symbols should be easy to understand and accurate. There are several standardized, universally understood symbols that are commonly found throughout industries.
  • Word messages: In addition to the signal word, this message should be a more concise message that only contains the necessary information and has no factual errors. Additional information can be a hazard description or emergency info. Examples of commonly used phrases include phrases like “Watch Your Step” or “Eye Protection Required”.

OSHA/ANSI have standards when it comes to the header color of a sign. Danger signs have a red header, warning signs use orange, yellow is for caution signs, notice signs have a blue header, and safety instruction signs feature a green color. These signs must be properly placed in accordance to the findings of a job hazard analysis.


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