ANSI vs. OSHA, Which Safety Paint Colors Do I Use?

From factory floors to warehouses and manufacturing equipment, the Performance team has a lot of painting experience. Whether it’s through our Rapid Image Improvement Program, or a complete painting overhaul, we’ve learned that choosing safety paint colors isn’t always easy.

The colors that are chosen, however, can be critical to your employee’s ability to perform his or her job safely. Color can also improve productivity and efficiency. While the paint selected has some practical uses, like protecting against corrosion, chemicals, or wear and tear, it can also be a life-saving safety matter.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not specifically mandate colors for facilities or accident prevention tags. However, it does make some recommendations for meeting the requirements for identifying danger, caution, warning, or biological hazard areas. Below are some of the industry standards based on the recommendations OSHA does make and the habits and expectations of those working on your floor.

RedOSHA-Red Danger, Fire, Stop
Use red for identifying fire protection equipment, fire alarms, fire exits, danger, stop signals, machinery stop switches, and sprinkler pipes.
OrangeOSHA-Orange Warning
Use orange to identify dangerous areas where movable parts of machines or energized equipment could cause an injury.
Yellow

OSHA-Yellow

Caution
Use yellow, or yellow and black stripes, for tripping, falling, and striking hazards. Examples include handrails, guardrails, exposed edges, or areas between moving parts. Yellow is also used to alert about flammable gasses or unstable materials.
GreenOSHA-Green Safety
Green means “good” or “go.” Use green to designate safe areas and first-aid equipment (not used for firefighting).
BlueOSHA-Blue Information
Use blue for informational signs. Blue is also used in specific industries for unique warnings. Such as the starting point or power source of machinery.
BlackOSHA-Black Traffic/Housekeeping
Black and white are reserved for non-emergency communication. They may designate traffic patterns, refuse cans, or storage areas.
PurpleOSHA-Purple Radiation
Use purple to designate radiation hazards. This might include x-rays, alpha, beta, gamma, neutron, proton, deuteron, and mason. It’s often used in combination with yellow to designate a radiation caution area.
Photoluminescent Evacuation
While multiple colors can be photoluminescent, these coatings are used to mark exit paths for emergency evaluations during power failures or low-level lighting situations. 
Fluorescent OrangeOSHA-FOrange Biological Hazard
Use fluorescent orange to identify substances that pose a biological health threat. This may include containers or testing areas for bacteria, bodily tissues, or blood.

In addition to OSHA’s recommendations, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) designates the colors that should be used for piping systems.

RedOSHA-Red Fire Protection & Sprinkler Piping
Red is for ANSI Class F. This includes sprinkler systems or other fire protection materials.
YellowOSHA-Yellow Dangerous Materials
Yellow is for ANSI Class D. This group includes materials that are hazardous to life or property because they are easily ignited, toxic, corrosive at high temperature or pressures, produce poisonous gas, or are themselves poisonous.
GreenOSHA-Green Safe Materials
Green is for ANSI Class S. This group includes those materials involving little or no hazard to life or property.
BlueOSHA-Blue Protective Materials
Blue is for ANSI Class P. This group includes materials that are piped through plants for the express purpose of being able to prevent or minimize the hazard of dangerous materials.

It all comes down to safety.

Consistency. It’s the magic word. Taking the time to come up with a consistent implementation will make the workday smoother and safer.

Need an update?

Inspections, tours by the CEO, clients coming into town…sometimes there’s added pressure to have your facility in tip-top-shape. The Performance team is available to work quickly, on your schedule to help get that fresh coat of paint on the areas that matter. For more information, please check out our Rapid Image Improvement Program.

This information has been gathered from the following resources:
OSHA 29 CFR 1910.144, Safety Color Code for Marking Physical Hazards
ANSI Z535.1, Safety Color Code