Colors of Safety

Colors of Safety

Colors and markings communicate important safety information to workers both on and off the job. Most people encounter and recognize some safety cues every day from colors and markings they see routinely (traffic signals).

Unfortunately, we observe some colors or markings so often that they just seem to become part of the background clutter. We need to periodically reinforce the meaning and importance of colors and markings, and discuss how they can help protect people from harm.

This safety talk’s purpose is to provide you with that information and stimulate discussion about the use of colors and markings at your facility.

Common Safety Colors

The American National Standards Institute established rules, which define how you should use colors to communicate information. This standardization helps you easily recognize and understand what message a color is communicating.

Examples are:

Red ‐ Fire protection equipment

  • Danger, high risk of severe injury or death
  • Emergency stops and alarms

Orange ‐ Hazard warnings

  • Moderate risk of injury
  • Guarding devices

Blue ‐ Notice of information

  • No immediate hazard

Green ‐ Safety equipment or information

  • First aid equipment or location

Yellow ‐ Caution statements

  • Minor risk of injury
  • Material‐handling equipment

Vehicle or container placards

Trucks, rail cars and other containers must have placards attached in clear view to communicate any hazards of the contents. Some of the placards may also use symbols with the colors to convey the proper message.

Discuss which of these placards you may find at your facility or on vehicles delivering hazardous materials.

  • Red ‐ Combustible or flammable
  • Yellow ‐ Oxidizers
  • White ‐ Poison or toxic
  • Orange ‐ Explosives
  • Green ‐ Non ‐ flammable gas
  • Red and white stripe ‐ Flammable solid

Special color and stripe combinations identify hazards such as corrosives, reactive materials or biohazards. For more information, check with your safety department.