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Safety Symbols

Last updated: September 20, 2018

What Does Safety Symbols Mean?

Safety symbols, hazard symbols or safety labels are meaningful and recognizable graphical symbols that warn of or identify hazards associated with the location or item. Safety symbols include images, pictograms, shapes, words, phrases, sentences or statements, which are displayed on walls, boards, buildings, doors, entrances, machines, equipment, tools, transports, roads or any other visible area. The symbol informs individuals about the presence of hazardous materials or chemicals, or a hazardous environment and instructs on how to remain safe or the possible consequences if not avoided.

For a deeper dive, check out Safety Symbols and Their Meanings

Safeopedia Explains Safety Symbols

Safety symbols are required for the safety of personnel using or working in a particular location that has potential hazards. Use of these symbols is a type of administrative hazard prevention and control method. These are simple, easy to understand and meant for informing or reminding personnel about a hazard in the vicinity. These are often printed on papers, stickers, small boards, walls, doors and glass or illuminated in the dark. They use different colors, shapes, backgrounds, borders and may have written words, phrases or sentences on them. Safety symbols are available on the internet free of charge or by payment. Many of these symbols are standardized and regulated by local laws and various standardization bodies.

International Organization for Standardization ISO 3864-1:2011 is about graphical symbols, safety colors, safety signs and safety markings. American National Standards Institute ANSI Z535 encourages the use of safety symbols that will identify the hazard, outline a way to avoid the hazard and consequences if not avoided. As per ANSI Z535.5 2007, there are 4 types of safety symbols:

  1. Hazard Alerting - Conveys information related to the nature of hazards
  2. Mandatory Action - Conveys actions that should be taken to avoid hazards
  3. Prohibition - Conveys actions that should not be taken
  4. Information - Conveys equipment and safety equipment location and permitted actions


Hazard Symbols, Safety Labels

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