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What do different colours of safety signs mean?

Published 07 March 2024


Keeping safe and informed is a priority for any organisation that cares about the welfare of its people. Whether at a construction site or in an office, safety signs help those on a premises make sure they know what to do in the event of an emergency. But do you know what the different colours of safety signs mean?

What do the 4 Colours of Safety Signs Mean?

Safety signs typically come in four colours:

Blue safety signs

This indicates a mandatory action and indicates a specific behaviour or action should be carried out. For example, safety gear must be worn here.

Yellow safety signs

This usually signifies a warning, or something that you should pay attention to. For example, a yellow sign might be used to remind you of a hazard such as a slippery floor or an overhead powerline.

Red safety signs

These signs indicate danger and are used to warn about potential risks or hazards, such as no entry or stop signs.

Green safety signs

Green safety signs are used to identify an area, usually to provide direction or give information such as emergency escape/first aid safety signs.

What are the Standards for Safety Signs in Australia?

Australia has a well-defined set of standards for safety signage, which serve as the official guidelines for ensuring safety signs are understood and used correctly.

Every Australian state and territory has adopted the AS/NZS 1319: 1994 standard for safety signs, known as the Safety Signs and Signals Standard. This sets out criteria for the size, message, colour and placement of safety signs, so that everyone is aware of the risks they need to take into account in different situations.

The standard also specifies the symbolism of different safety icons, such as a skull and crossbones for a biohazard or a flame for a flammable material.

Different Safety Symbols and What They Mean

Safety symbols are important to understand and can help you stay safe.

  • a skull and crossbones symbol indicates a biohazard or poisoning risk
  • a flame indicates a flammable material or fire hazard
  • exclamation mark for caution
  • a crossed-out wheelbarrow indicates no entry for vehicles
  • a lightning bolt for electric shock hazards
  • a triangle with an exclamation mark is to alert you to an issue

It is essential to recognise and understand safety signs in order to remain safe and informed at work or in other public areas. Knowing the colour code and symbols means that you can quickly identify what it is you need to be aware of in a particular situation. Being vigilant and ensuring that everyone around you is aware of safety signage will help everyone stay safe and healthy.

For further information on safety signage standards and symbols in Australia, the National Construction Code is a great resource. The Australian Government has also published an information sheet covering the standard for safety signs and symbols in the workplace.

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