Shop Safety Sign Requirements

It is the employer's responsibility to educate and keep workers informed of workplace hazards and safe practices. Safety signs are an easy and effective way to raise awareness.

OSHA Safety Sign Specifications

OSHA has three classifications for safety signs in the workplace and requires the colors be in accordance with ANSI standard Z53.1-1967.

  • Danger signs indicate immediate danger and that special precautions are necessary. OSHA requires danger signs to only have red, black, and white colors.
  • Caution signs are used only to warn against potential hazards or to caution against unsafe practices. OSHA states color of the sign's background should be yellow. Panels should be black with yellow letters. Lettering used against the yellow background must be black.
  • Safety instruction signs are used where there is a need for general instructions and safety suggestions. OSHA states safety instruction signs must have a white background, green panel, and white letters. Any letters used on the white background must be in black.

ANSI Sign Specifications

In addition to OSHA's standards, ANSI has eight classifications of accident prevention signs under its standard Z535.2-2011.

  • Danger signs are for an immediately hazardous situation that, if not avoided, will result in death or serious injury.
  • Warning signs are for potentially hazardous situations that, if not avoided, could result in death or serious injury.
  • Caution signs are for potentially hazardous situations that, if not avoided, may result in minor or moderate injury.
  • Notice signs are to be used to indicate a statement of company policy as the message relates directly or indirectly to the safety of personnel or protection of property.
  • General safety signs are to be used for general instructions relative to safe work practices, reminders of proper safety procedures, and the location of safety equipment.
  • Fire safety signs are used to identify the location of emergency firefighting equipment.
  • Directional arrow signs are used to indicate the direction to emergency equipment, safety equipment, and other locations important to safety.
  • Special signs have been developed for special uses and have been separated from the other categories of hazard alerting devices by special layout.

Sign Size Requirements

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Safety signs should be concise and easy to read. The size of the lettering must be as large as possible for the intended viewing distance.

ANSI defines the size of safety signs, height and width of the letters, and viewing distances under standard Z535.2-2011.

The table below shows unit of height and safe viewing distances:

Signal Word Letter Height (In.) Viewing Distance (Ft.)
5.00 62.50
4.50 56.25
4.00 50.00
3.50 43.75
3.00 37.50
2.50 31.25
2.00 25.00
1.50 18.75
1.00 12.50
0.75 9.375
0.50 6.25
0.25 3.125

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NOTE: This information is a summary interpretation and was prepared as general reference material only. This summary is not authoritative as laws can be amended over time. For specific compliance requirements and updates, please refer to the actual code language and the statute or legal counsel.