Whether it is in work, or generally just ‘out and about’, we will all be aware of signs either informing, or instructing, us in one way or another. What we are not, perhaps, so aware of, is the format of the signs – in the UK these public signs are standardised, and we develop an understanding of the type of information the signage is giving us through the shape and colour of the signs themselves.

All health and safety signage must adhere to specific regulations.

Font colours on H&S signs

There are four colours associated with health and safety signage – red, yellow, blue and green. Each colour is associated with specific types of instruction, or information, and the colour of each sign indicates the importance of the message, and influences the sort of reaction expected from its’ instruction.

Here is an overall guide to each of the colours and categories:


Red signage usually indicates some form of prohibitory behaviour and underlines a level of danger associated with those potential actions. They are usually round in shape, will have a thick red band, or edge, and will feature images with a strong red diagonal line through them, indicating that the action depicted is prohibited. Instructions such as “No Smoking” or “No Entry” are typical of the type of message displayed in a red sign.


Yellow (or Amber) signage usually depicts a warning of some kind. These signs are designed to alert you to certain potential dangers and to take precautions, or care, in that specific environment or location. These signs are usually triangular in shape, and will feature text and/or images in black. Regulations dictate that at least 50% of the sign MUST be yellow and have thick, black edging. These are commonly referred to as Hazard Signs – warnings such as “Dangerous Chemicals” or “Mind the Step” are typical content for Yellow signs.


Blue signs are usually safety signs – these will display images or text demonstrating specific behaviours that must be followed in that particular environment. Actions such as wearing specific protective clothing, or safety goggles, are typical examples. These are commonly referred to as Mandatory Signs – they will be circular in shape and the sign background MUST be at least 50% blue with white images or text conveying the message or instruction.


Green signs are also safety signs – although these will typically display information highlighting safety features or facilities (exit routes, assembly points, first aid points etc.). These signs are rectangular in shape and will feature white imagery against the green background.

All of these signs play vital roles in the general safety of people within the specific environments in which they are displayed, and should ALWAYS be adhered to!

A full guide safety signs in accordance with The Health & Safety Act 1996 can be purchased from the Health & Safety Executive.

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