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The Psychology Behind the Design and Color of Safety Signs

Image of a safety sign

Image of a safety signSafety signs give people general information to stay safe. They also help people navigate through a new place or establishment. You may wonder why signs look the way they do, and why sign makers use particular colors for specific signs. Their design relies on their purpose and the message they are sending.

Safety Sign Standards

Safety signs come in five colors according to the information they provide:

  • Red: danger
  • Orange: warning
  • Yellow: caution
  • Blue: notice
  • Green: safety instructions

They also come in different shapes based on their category. Clarionsafety.com says that simple one-word/one-image signs are outdated and lack information. The designs have changed over the past 100 years. Signs now follow standards set by authorities like the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) and the ISO (International Organization for Standardization). The new signs have quick, informative text along with their respective safety colors. They require sufficient information and warning and must communicate such messages more clearly.

The Psychology of Safety Signs

There’s a psychology that goes into safety sign patterns. Colors must not only send important messages but also catch people’s attention. Safety sign standards consider the intensity of colors and tie them with the urgency of the message. When a sign needs to be readable, it should have a color that’s easy on the eyes like blue or green. If a sign demands immediate attention, they come in red or yellow.

Some signs serve as activators and instruct people about safety measures. Some encourage individuals to make these safety precautions a habit. However, the challenge comes with making them stop, look, and read. Because people can be distracted, some signs use other techniques to grab attention especially when they are text-heavy. Some companies, for instance, use a dash of wit and humor to make signs less forceful and more interesting.

Changing the current behavior of individuals or starting a new habit is the primary challenge of safety signs. They carry enormous responsibilities that can save lives, so it’s important that they are designed appropriately and more efficiently.