ANSI Symbol Definitions

Why should I use ANSI symbols?

To better communicate potential hazards or policies on accident prevention signs, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has recommended that symbols be used on signs and labels.

According to the ANSI Z535 standard, these ANSI symbols should be used to supplement the sign’s legend and reinforce or clarify the intended message.

This can be especially helpful in multilingual workplaces where employees may not fully understand a sign’s legend. Adding universally understood ANSI symbols help bring a common element to the message.

These easily understood ANSI symbols can also help workers identify hazards from far away. Although signs should be posted according to minimum viewing distances, seeing an accident prevention sign’s symbol earlier would increase reaction time and give more time to avoid a potential hazard.

ANSI symbols also benefit workers with limited reading skills or who are illiterate and cannot understand a safety sign’s message.

Safety Symbol Definitions – ANSI

There are four types of ANSI symbols described in ANSI Z535.3:

  • ANSI Z5352 Symbols
  • ANSI Symbol Type Definition
    Hazard Alerting ANSI symbols that relate to the nature of a potential hazard, such as high voltage or hot surface.
    Informational Symbols displaying permitted actions, the location of equipment, or directional information.
    Mandatory Action ANSI symbols that convey actions that should be taken to avoid potential hazards.
    Prohibited Action Symbols depicting actions that should not be taken. The action is shown with a red circular band around it and a diagonal band across the action.

Safety Symbol Definitions – OSHA

With the exception of hazard communication symbols, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has not developed standards that specifically define symbols for safety signs.

The ANSI Z535-2011(R2017) standard was adopted by OSHA, making compliance with this ANSI standard part of the greater OSHA safety regulations. This means that the use of ANSI symbols to reinforce safety messages is a best practice for the design of safety signs.

What are ANSI standards?

ANSI is an independent organization that accredits standards for numerous industries. These standards help unify different ways to communicate information, such as accident prevention information. Learn more here.

What is the ANSI format for safety signs?

ANSI safety sign formats are based on the ANSI Z535-2011 standard. This standard has three important elements, including a safety header, images, and the sign legend. Learn more here.

What are ANSI color codes?

ANSI color codes are described in the ANSI Z535.1-2001 standard for the identification of potential hazards and safety equipment. Each color or combination of colors has its own use case. Learn more here.

Do I need OSHA or ANSI safety signs?

The goals of OSHA and ANSI designed signs are the same: to alert workers of potential hazards and of workplace policies. There are many factors that should be considered before choosing one design or the other, and in many cases, an ANSI formatted sign will comply with OSHA standards. Learn more here. does not recommend or specify the use of a specific safety sign because it does not have knowledge of the hazard(s) our customers are identifying. It is the customer’s sole responsibility to identify the hazard(s) that may be present and select one or more signs (stock or custom) that accurately identify their specific hazard(s) and complies with any applicable federal, state or local laws or regulations, any worksite specific rules or regulations and/or any applicable safety standards (including, without limitation, ANSI and/or OSHA standards). disclaims any and all liability (excluding liability for our Product Warranty contained in our Terms and Conditions) for any sign selected by a customer and shall not be responsible for any personal injury or property damage resulting from the use of signs purchased from it or for the independent interpretation made of any applicable federal, state or local laws or regulations, any worksite specific rules or regulations, and/or any applicable safety standards (including, without limitation, ANSI and/or OSHA standards). Customer shall indemnify and hold and its corporate parent and its officers, directors and affiliates harmless from and against any and all claims, loss or expense (including attorneys’ fees) arising from or related to the purchase and use by customer or any third party of any sign purchased by customer from

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