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Employers are required to warn employees, contractors, and visitors about potential hazards throughout the workplace. One of the most efficient ways to do this is with color-coded warning labels.

What are warning labels? These markers follow the guidelines set by the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and are adhered to an item to communicate the risks of using the item. The label may also provide instructions on how to use the equipment or product. The guidelines from OSHA and ANSI are designed to prevent accidents and personal injuries when the equipment, machinery, chemical, or item is used.

OSHA and ANSI require safety labels to be a specific color depending on the severity of the hazard. These color codes are the same across industries to ensure consistency and accurate visual communication throughout workplaces in the U.S. 

OSHA Safety Color Coding

OSHA provides standards for marking physical hazards. According to the 29 CFR 1910.144 standard, OSHA warning labels must be red or yellow, depending on the application.

  • Red (or predominantly red) labels should be used for fire protection equipment and other fire-related hazards, such as emergency switches or buttons on machinery. Reb labels can also be used to indicate flammable liquids.
  • Yellow tags are like the crosswalk signs we see when driving in that they are used to caution people of potential hazards. They warn workers, visitors, and users of tripping, falling, stumbling, pinching, and striking risks.

ANSI Safety Colors

Another organization, ANSI, also provided safety color recommendations. However, ANSI is not a governmental agency, so it cannot enforce its color-coding measures as OSHA can. Despite this, ANSI’s standard is highly accepted across industries because it’s considered one of the best in the world. Here are the ANSI safety colors (ANSI Z535.1) you should know for your warning signs and labels:

  • Orange labels indicate dangerous parts of equipment that may cut, crush, shock, or harm people or the facility. They can indicate moving machine parts, electrical hazards, and low clearance levels. This color is often used on labels for equipment or machinery, but it can also be found on signs or other objects. Orange (or predominantly orange) labels and signs will often be accompanied by lettering or symbols in a contrasting color (such as black) to help the message stand out.
  • Green is often used to signify the location of safety equipment, such as first aid kits, remind employees of general sanitation guidelines, and encourage them to report incidents. The color green is mainly used on signage around the workplace.
  • Blue is frequently used on Notice signs to provide general information related to a particular item or area. The information on the sign or label does not need to be safety-related. It can be used on signs designating smoking/non-smoking areas or remind employees of best practices.
  • Black and white signs or labels are used for guiding traffic and are not specifically safety-related.
  • Purple labels specify radiation hazards.

Get Labels in the Right Safety Color

Whether your workplace has biological hazards or physical hazards, it is your responsibility to provide the correct accident prevention tags. The above basics on OSHA and ANSI safety color codes could protect employees, contractors, and visitors from accidents and injuries.

If you need an OSHA or ANSI-compliant warning label or sign, our team can help you determine the specifications for your label to be fully compliant. Get in touch with LEM Products, Inc. today!