Two agencies govern safety signs and marking: OSHA and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Under OSHA’s revised Hazard Communication Standard, organizations can now use either the ANSI standards from 1967-1968 (ANSI Z53.1, Z35.1 and Z35.2) or from 2011 (ANSI Z535.1, Z535.2 and Z535.5) for safety signage.

OSHA specifications for safety signs, accident prevention signs and safety tags are spelled out in 29 Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) 1910.145. These specifications cover all safety signs except those designed for streets, highways and railroads. These specifications do not apply to plant bulletin boards or to safety posters.

ANSI and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) have developed and published the ANSI/NEMA Z535 series of voluntary consensus standards for safety signs and colors. The ANSI/NEMA Z535 series is composed of six documents and a color chart:

  • ANSI/NEMA Z535 Color Chart
  • ANSI/NEMA Z535.1 Safety Colors
  • ANSI/NEMA Z535.2 Environmental Facility and Safety Signs
  • ANSI/NEMA Z535.3 Criteria for Safety Symbols
  • ANSI/NEMA Z535.4 Product Safety Signs and Labels
  • ANSI/NEMA Z535.5 Safety Tags and Barricade Tapes (for Temporary Hazards)
  • ANSI/NEMA Z535.6 Product Safety Information in Product Manuals, Instructions and Other Collateral Materials