ANSI Z535.1-2022: Standard for Safety Colors

Red and Yellow safety signs for do not touch according to ANSI Z535.1-2022.

Through their effective and quick recognition, safety colors enhance the ability of a word message or safety symbol to convey essential information to workers. American National Standard ANSI Z535.1-2022 plays a key role in assisting viewers and manufacturers through a uniform system of safety colors.

ANSI Z535 Standards for Safety Signs and Colors

Effectively communicating hazards is crucial. The reasoning for this is simple: hazards will always be present. However, it is inadequate for product safety labels to be left entirely to the manufacturer’s discretion; instead, a shared structure for the colors and symbols on safety labels has long been necessary for conveying dangers in a manner comprehensible by the average worker.

For decades, the ANSI Z535 series of standards have limited ambiguity in conveying hazards that could potentially lead to disastrous misunderstandings. These American National Standards, developed by the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), provide the information needed to specify formats, colors, and symbols for safety signs used in environmental and facility applications, product and product literature applications, and temporary safety tag and barricade tape applications.

ANSI Z535.1 is the oldest of the bunch, tracing its origins to an American War Standard developed back in 1945 at the request of the War Department and approved by the American Standards Association (ASA), the original name of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). In 1979, the ANSI Z53 Committee on Safety Colors was combined with the ANSI Z35 Committee on Safety Signs to form the ANSI Z535 Committee on Safety Signs and Colors. This later led to the merging of ANSI Z53 and ANSI Z35 into one ANSI Z535.1 standard in 1991, a year that saw several new ANSI Z535 standards published. Today, this series includes the following American National Standards:

ANSI Z535.1-2022: Safety Colors

ANSI Z535.2-2011 (R2017): Environmental And Facility Safety Signs

ANSI Z535.3-2022: Criteria For Safety Symbols

ANSI Z535.4-2011 (R2017): Product Safety Signs And Labels

ANSI Z535.5-2022: Safety Tags And Barricade Tapes (For Temporary Hazards)

ANSI Z535.6-2011 (R2017): Product Safety Information In Product Manuals, Instructions And Other Collateral Materials

These standard are available together on the ANSI Webstore as the ANSI/NEMA Z535 SET.

What is ANSI Z535.1-2022?

The first part of this series of American National Standards, ANSI Z535.1-2022, establishes the safety colors used in the other ANSI Z535 standards.

ANSI Z535.1-2022 establishes a uniform system for specifying safety colors, and it harmonizes with ISO 3864-4. While it is beyond the scope of this standard to give in-depth instructions for color measurements or address the color of safety sign, label, or tag substrates, it does help to implement a system through Munsell notations (the appearance of color expressed through hue, value, and chroma), CIE colorimetric data (mathematically plotted color map), defined chromaticity regions, and color formulas.

These aspects are used for each ANSI and ISO safety color used on safety signs, labels, and signs. Through this, the material covered within ANSI Z535.1-2022 supports the other standards of the ANSI Z535 series.

Changes to ANSI Z535.1-2022

The 2022 edition is the tenth revision of what began as American War Standard in 1945, this time around revising the previous version that was published in 2017. To keep its information current, ANSI Z535.1-2022 incorporated minor updates for consistency with the other ANSI Z535 standards was revised to clarify the its relationship to other applicable standards and regulations.

ANSI Z535.1-2022: Safety Colors is available on the ANSI Webstore.

Changes to ANSI Z535.1-2017

The past revision of the safety colors standard was quite significant. Any users of the standard who might benefit from knowing these changes can see them detailed below.

Some of the primary changes to ANSI Z535.1-2017 made the standard more user-friendly and easy to understand, something that surely is important for a document intended to relay hazard information clearly. New definitions were added, and the normative body of the document was simplified. Furthermore, greater emphasis was placed on what can affect a safety color’s appearance and cause it to fall outside the acceptable tolerance limits, and fluorescent safety color information was updated.

Several new annexes were added to ANSI Z535.1-2017. Annex A clarifies the color boundaries for Safety Yellow; Annex B illustrates ANSI safety colors in relation to ISO safety colors; Annex C contains color cross-reference tables; Annex D demonstrates ISO safety colors and contrast colors of ordinary materials; Annex E illustrates the Munsell Hue Circle.

Furthermore, Safety Gray and Safety Brown were eliminated from Table 1 in this revision, as, even though they may be in use by other signage systems, these two colors are not considered hazard alerting colors for accident prevention.

ANSI Z535.1-2017 also harmonized with Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49 Transportation, §172.407, Labeling Specifications, resulting in some specific changes. Multiple tables were replaced in the document. The Munsell Notations and chromaticity coordinates were made identical in both the CFR Table 1 and ANSI Z535.1, with the exception of how color is described. Additionally, the PANTONE colors originally specified in 2002 for the Safety Color Chart were changed to harmonize with the PANTONE colors specified in the CFR.

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2 thoughts on “ANSI Z535.1-2022: Standard for Safety Colors
  1. With all the Coatings Manufacturers today, what do they need in order to meet the Safety Colors Standards. I have specs that call for Safety Yellow as per ANSI Z535.1, but yet my Vendor suggests his Safety Yellow. The site QC says it needs to closely match ANSI. Actually a bit confusing on acceptability.
    Looking to resolve.

  2. Hi, great information, thank you!
    About the Energy Source labels, on my LOTO procedure, what should be the colors by energy type?

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