During World War II, a significant consideration was made to be sure that critical equipment was properly marked and color coded according to parameters designated at that time. To help avoid the risk of “friendly fire”, aircrafts were marked with distinctive colors or stripes so they could easily be recognized during intense military operations. This was only the beginning of the need for standardization!
As we all know, workplace safety is critical to the manufacturing industry. To help prevent accidents, standard color codes have been developed for manufacturers and machinery that provides a standard message to all workers. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and has served as administrator of the US private sector standardization system for over 90 years. What began as the “American War Standard” published in 1945, the ANSI standard ensures that the characteristics and performance of products are consistent. It requires companies to use the same definitions/terms and that products are tested the same way.
How many ANSI/OSHA Safety Colors are there out there and what do they represent? Listed below are the primary Safety Colors currently used in the OEM market today:
- Red – Designates “danger”, “stop” and the location of fire protection equipment and apparatus.
- Yellow – Designates “caution” for making physical hazards such as: striking against, stumbling, falling, tripping and “caught in between”.
- Orange – Designates “warning” and dangerous parts of machinery or energized equipment which could cause injury.
- Green – Designates “safety” and the location of first aid equipment.
- Blue – Warning against starting or moving equipment under repairs.
- Purple – Designates radiation hazards.
- Black/White – Designates traffic and housekeeping markings.
The OEM industry must follow these designated safety colors under ANSI Z535. This standard was developed to provide the specifications and requirements to create uniformity of safety color coding, environmental/facility safety signs, and communicating safety symbols. It also enables the design, application, use, and placement of product safety signs, labels, tags and barricade tape.