Safety Sign Message 2
The Role of Safety Signs

Environmental, health and safety professionals know that it’s critical to effectively communicate safety. Safety signage plays a key role in achieving this objective. They are the visual tools used to remind people of potential hazards and how to avoid them. Another tool is to reinforce your safety training programs.

Your safety signage is a direct reflection of your company’s safety culture. Your safety signage and training demonstrate your care and concern for the health and safety of your employees, guests, visitors, subcontractors and temporary workers.

The New ANSI Standard - Z535.2-2011

As organizations adopt the latest ANSI standards, the U.S. will increasingly require uniform safety signing. Uniformity leads to more effective communication, with the ultimate objective being fewer accidents in the workplace. These standards truly move the industry forward. With it comes safety and worker protection by:

  • Using more effective warnings supported by research and modern risk assessment methodology
  • Providing more information on hazards and how to respond to them
  • Better accommodating today’s diverse workforce with the use of multilingual signs
  • Including up-to-date warning standards and technology advancements
ANSI Standard Z535.2-2011 Safety Sign Components Diagram.2
Vulcan Safety Signs

All Vulcan safety signs are fabricated in compliance with the ANSI Standard Z535.2-2011. All signs are made from .040 aluminum with rounded corners for safety and holes punched for easy installation. Signs are screen printed or digitally printed on a durable, scuff resistant vinyl background. Small quantities are available for quick shipment. Reflective safety signs and decals are also available. Available sizes include 10” x 7”, 14” x 10” and 20” x 14”. Custom sizes also available.

Step 1:
Choose the Correct Size Sign
Choose size based on minimum safe viewing distance

Standard Size: 7” x 5”

Minimum Safe Viewing Distance: 8 ft.

Safety Sign Size 1

Standard Size: 10" x 7"

Minimum Safe Viewing Distance: 10 ft.

Safety Sign Size 2

Standard Size: 14" x 10"

Minimum Safe Viewing Distance: 20 ft.

Safety Sign Size 3

Standard Size: 20" x 14"

Minimum Safe Viewing Distance: 30 ft.

Safety Sign Size 4
Step 2:
Choose the Correct Signal Word
Choose Safety Signal Word.2

Safety Symbols

Step 3:
Choose the Correct Safety Symbol

The U.S. population is multi-ethnic, highly mobile and derived from a multiplicity of social and educational backgrounds, with different reading and word comprehension skills. These factors complicate the effectiveness of word-only signs. Effective safety symbols have demonstrated their ability to provide critical information for accident prevention and for personal protection. Signs with safety symbols can promote greater and more rapid communication of the safety message and therefore greater safety for the general population.


This type of safety symbol conveys the nature of the hazard.

A bunch of safety symbols
Prohibition Symbols

This type of safety symbol conveys actions that should not be taken.

Various prohibition symbols
Mandatory Action

This type of safety symbol conveys actions that should be taken to avoid hazards.

Mandatory Action Symbols for Safety Signs.2
Safe Condition

This type of safety symbol is generally used on Safety Equipment Locations and Egress Signs to convey first aid location and means of escape.

Fire Safety

This type of safety symbol is generally used on Fire Equipment Location Signs and can convey the type of fire equipment.

Various safe condition and fire safety symbols
Step 4:
Choose the correct verbiage to coordinate with the safety symbol

Determine the message by taking the points below in consideration

The word message on a safety sign typically communicates information to an observer on the type of hazard, the consequences of not avoiding the hazard and how to avoid the hazard. Many factors must be considered when determining whether to omit consequence, avoidance, or type of hazard information in the word message. Factors to consider include whether the message can be inferred from a symbol, other text messages, the target audience’s training, or the context in which the safety sign is used.

Choose Verbiage for Safety Sign.2
  • Use succinct statements in order to communicate the hazard as quickly as possible
  • Communicate the message as an action statement
  • Identify the hazard in a clear, simple way with a hazard description statement
  • Emphasize desired action or other message by using all capital letters, bold letters, larger text or a combination
  • Avoid prepositional phrases
  • Use mixed upper and lower case text where only the first letter of the first word of a sentence is capitalized (on occasion, a single word or phrase may be set in upper case letters to provide emphasis)
  • Utilize consequence statements that tell the viewer in clear, simple language what will happen if the warning is ignored
  • Write statements in the active voice rather than passive voice
  • To enhance readability,consider separation of the word messageusing an outline or bullet style format where appropriate
  • Use left aligned “ragged right” text for all but one-line text messages, which can be either left aligned or centered
  • Choose type color based on which is more legible; black on a white background or white on a black background
Various Orientation and Formats Available

Flexibility in orientation and size is promoted in order to best convey the sign's message, while also taking into consideration the desired placement of the sign. There are few restrictions in this area of the ANSI standard. It is best to remain with a straight sided rectangle. Several examples are below that illustrate different orientations.

Various orientation and formats of safety signs.2

Horizontal formats can be extended to provide additional space for the word message.

Keep the safety alert symbol and signal word next to each other and centered in the signal word panel.

Single Row Orientation for Safety Sign
Multi-Hazard & Multilingual Formats Available

This selection of additional languages for safety signs is an extremely complex issue. The use of safety symbols is strongly encouraged in order to better communicate the sign’s hazard information. The following formats should be considered for multilingual signing.

MultiHazard and Multilingual Formats.2