Although the safety sign classification system we are familiar with today began in the early 1900s with the emergence of automobiles, these were not the first recorded warning signs. Experts found roadside warning signs carved into stone as early as 1686 in Lisbon’s Alfama neighborhood that indicated messages about horse-drawn vehicles backing up. These hazard signs functioned as an early milestone to promote safety. Moreover, it was not until 1941 that safety signage standards and hence high-contrast lettering in safety signage were introduced, in part due to the growing industrial revolution and the rise of accident rates. ANSI Z535.2-2023: Environmental And Facility Safety Signs provides requirements for safety signs in facilities and the environment.
What Is ANSI Z535.2?
ANSI Z535.2-2023 regulates requirements for the design, application, and use of safety signs in facilities and in the environment through consistent visual layout. An environmental/facility safety sign is a sign in a workplace or public area that provides safety information. The American National Standard species the placement of these signs should protect them from foreseeable visual obstruction and damage, such as fading from exposure to ultraviolet radiation, abrasion, or degradation from substances like lubricants, chemicals, and dirt. It aims to establish a uniform visual layout for safety signs to be located in facilities and in the environment, minimize the proliferation of designs for environmental and facility safety signs, and establish a national uniform system for signs that communicate safety information. Industries, commercial establishments, property owners, employers, and others who place safety signs in the environment or facility under their control can find useful guidance in ANSI Z535.2-2023.
Changes in the 2023 Edition of ANSI Z535.2
The 2023 edition of ANSI Z535.2 was revised to clarify the relationship of this standard with other applicable standards and regulations. The references have been updated to reflect currently available sources and standards.
The Types of Safety Signs in ANSI Z535.2
ANSI Z535.2-2023 describes the five types of safety signs used in facilities and the environment:
1. Hazard Alerting Signs
These signs are classified according to the relative seriousness of the hazardous situation. The classification is based on the probability of being injured if the hazard is not avoided and on the severity of the resulting injury. For hazard alerting signs, there are three hazard classifications that are denoted by the signal words “DANGER,” “WARNING,” and “CAUTION.”
- DANGER: Indicates a hazardous situation that, if not avoided, will result in death or serious injury. This signal word is to be limited to the most extreme situations.
- WARNING: Indicates a hazardous situation that, if not avoided, could result in death or serious injury.
- CAUTION: Indicates a hazardous situation that, if not avoided, could result in minor or moderate injury.
2. Notice Signs
These signs indicate information considered important but not hazard-related. For environmental/facility signs, NOTICE is typically the choice of signal word for messages relating to property damage, security, sanitation, and housekeeping rules.
3. Safety Instruction Signs
These signs identify specific safety-related instructions or procedures. This type of sign may be used to supplement a hazard alerting sign by providing a place to convey lengthy safety-related instructional information.
4. Safety Equipment Location Signs
These signs identify the direction to, or the location of, safety equipment (e.g., first aid equipment, emergency eyewash, safety shower).
5. Fire Equipment Location Signs
These signs identify the direction to, or the location of, fire equipment (e.g., fire alarm, fire hose, fire extinguisher)
ANSI Z535 Series for Safety Color Code
ANSI Z535.2-2023 is Part 2 in the ANSI Z535 Series on Safety Colors. The goal of this series is to develop, refine, and promote a single, uniform graphic system used for communicating safety and accident prevention information. Check out The Significance of Product Safety Signs and Labels in ANSI Z535 to better understand the ANSI Z535 series for Safety Color Code. The following seven standards comprise the ANSI Z535 series:
- ANSI Z535.1 Safety Color Code
- ANSI Z535.2 Environmental and Facility Safety Signs
- ANSI Z535.3 Criteria for Safety Symbol
- ANSI Z535.4 Product Safety Signs and Labels
- ANSI Z535.5 Safety Tags and Barricade Tapes (for Temporary Hazards)
- ANSI Z535.6 Product Safety Information in Product Manuals, Instructions, and Other Collateral Materials
- ANSI Z535.7 Product Safety Information in Electronic Media (new in 2023)
Together, these seven standards contain the information needed to specify formats, colors, and symbols for safety signs used in environmental and facility applications, in product and product literature applications, and in temporary safety tag and barricade tape applications.
ANSI Z535.2-2023: Environmental And Facility Safety Signs is available on the ANSI Webstore.