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Notice Signage: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What are the uses of a Notice Sign?

A.

Notice is a signal word for communicating non-hazard safety messages. With Notice Signs, you can notify workers or visitors of facility rules and give away instructions like Keep This Door Closed, Authorized Personnel Only, etc. You can also communicate important health and safety messages like Electrical Box Must Be Covered. NOTICE Signs can be used for messages concerning security, hygiene, housekeeping, equipment or property damage. “Notice” is not used for hazards but non-personal injury-related messages. Signs can provide directions and ease navigation for employees, customers, clients or delivery people in general. They can help in asking workers and visitors to wear proper protective equipment (PPE) like hearing protection, hard hats, or eye protection too.

Q. What is the difference between OSHA Notice Signs and ANSI Notice Signs?

A.

While OSHA is a regulatory government organization under the Department of Labor responsible for formulating and enforcing safety standards, ANSI is an independent body which can’t enforce its suggested practices. In 2013, OSHA adopted the latest ANSI Z535 standards for safety sign designs making both newer ANSI formats and the older OSHA formats permissible under OSHA standards.

When it comes to display, an OSHA Notice Sign would just have the header and text in its prescribed manner. ANSI Notice signs go a step further and require a symbol/pictogram or graphical description, a distinct header, and message panel with the safety message. Both are widely accepted workplace safety tools.

Q. Can OSHA-Approved Notice Signs protect your company against legal liability?

A.

Certainly. Posting OSHA-approved signs provides you with a better defense in court in case of an accident or if any lawsuit arises. According to insurance industry research, “inadequate warnings” and “failure to warn” are two of the most common allegations found in liability lawsuits filed in U.S. courts. U.S. courts penalize a lot of organizations who are unable to provide “adequate warnings” to employees or visitors which results in an accident. If an accident occurs and a person, other than the employee of the company like subcontractors, temporary workers, and guests are injured, the risk of litigation is even higher. Although notice signs are not required by OSHA, it is considered a best practice to use notice signs for better workplace safety communication.

Q. Are the new OSHA/ANSI Notice Signs required to have ISO formatted symbols?

A.

Notice Signs are mostly used to display security and company policies. However, Notice Signs would go unnoticed if they’re only text-based and fail to leave a mark. New, best practice signs suggested by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and adopted by the OSHA use universal ISO graphical symbols that are striking and understood at a glance. 

The old OSHA Notice Signs do not contain any symbols and use the format that was developed in 1959. Since 2004, ISO formatted symbols have been used in ANSI safety signs. And in 2013 OSHA adopted the ANSI safety sign format. ISO symbols are permitted, but not necessarily “required” in the design of safety signs like new ANSI/OSHA Notice Signs. 

Q. Why are Notice Signs blue and white in color?

A.

The new OSHA/ANSI signs use a color-coded signal word panel. Every header in an OSHA/ANSI Safety Sign is assigned a background color. For example - Red for Danger, Yellow for Caution, Orange for Warning, Green for Safety Instructions and Blue for Notice. OSHA Notice Signs are mostly used to convey security messages and general policies. The signal word “NOTICE” is always in white on a blue background. This contrasting combination gives the sign a distinct and uniform look which can be easily recognized from afar amid other signage posted in and around your facility. 

Q. What is the difference between Notice Signs and General Safety Signs?

A.

Notice signs communicate procedures, maintenance information, instructions, rules, and directions that can prevent non-personal injuries like information about a machine, building, area, or equipment. 


General safety signscommunicate safety-related messages, typically relating to health, medical equipment, sanitation, first aid, housekeeping, and suggested general safety measures.

Q. Can notice header signs be in other colors than blue?

A.

According to ANSI Z535.4 Article 7.2.4: The word NOTICE shall be in white letters on a safety blue background only. The body text, however, can be blue or black lettering on a white background or white letters on a black background. These signs do not include the “safety alert” symbol.

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