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Silently Guiding Safety: American National Standards for Safety Signs and Colors


High voltage… biohazard… wet floor… radioactive materials… the effectiveness of safety signs like these relies upon consistency and bold, graphic impact to warn people against specific hazards and personal injury. Six recently revised American National Standards (ANS) from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) guide the communication of safety information in public spaces, the workplace, and for a range of industrial and consumer products.

Serious about safety
The ANSI Z535 series is a comprehensive collection of standards guiding the design, evaluation, and use of safety signs, colors, and symbols intended to prevent personal injury by visually alerting people to potential hazards:

  • ANSI/NEMA Z535.1-2006 (R2011), Safety colors
    This ANS establishes technical definitions, color standards, and color tolerances for the ANSI Z535 safety colors.

  • ANSI Z535.2-2011, Environmental and facility safety signs
    This standard guides the design, application, and use of safety signs in facilities and in the environment through consistent visual layout. Reorganized to more clearly describe the five types of safety signs used in facilities, the 2011 edition has also been updated to better harmonize with other parts of the ANSI Z535 series.

  • ANSI/NEMA Z535.3-2011, Criteria for safety symbols
    This document provides general criteria for the design, evaluation, and use of safety symbols to identify and warn against specific hazards, and to provide information to avoid personal injury.

  • ANSI/NEMA Z535.4-2011, Product safety signs and labels
    ANSI/NEMA Z535.4-2011 establishes performance requirements for the design, application, use, and placement of safety signs and labels on a wide variety of products. Revisions to the standard include a new product safety sign, as well as updated definitions to more clearly delineate a separation between physical injury and other safety-related issues.

  • ANSI/NEMA Z535.5-2011, Safety tags and barricade tapes (for temporary hazards)
    This ANS covers the design, application, and use of safety tags and barricade tapes for temporary hazards.

  • ANSI/NEMA Z535.6-2011, Product safety information in product manuals, instructions, and other collateral materials
    ANSI/NEMA Z535.6 lays out requirements for the clear and consistent communication of safety information for a wide array of products. Specifically, the standard addresses collateral information, which includes printed or electronic documents that accompany a product in the form of owner's manuals, maintenance instructions, assembly instructions, and user guides. ANSI Z535.6-2006 seeks to establish a uniform layout to ensure that important safety information will be communicated effectively and consistently with other safety signs and labels that might also be in use.

  • ANSI/NEMA Z535-2011, Safety color chart
    The safety color chart includes updated and corrected information on ink specifications for the Z535 safety colors.

    This comprehensive collection includes all six parts and the color chart.

NEMA is a member and accredited standards developer of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). NEMA's accredited standards committee ASC Z535, Safety Signs and Colors, develops standards for the design, application, and use of signs, colors, and symbols intended to identify and warn against specific hazards and for other accident prevention purposes.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


[email protected]

Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


[email protected]