Choosing the Right Size Sign

Choosing the Right Size Sign | Signs Inc.

The Importance of ISO 7010

ISO 7010 prescribes safety signs for the purposes of accident prevention, fire protection, health hazard information and emergency evacuation. The purpose of the ISO 7010 standard is to introduce a globally recognisable range of safety pictograms. Many of these signs will be familiar, as the ISO norm builds on older, country specific norms. Some signs however are new introductions, approved by national standardisation committees in the International Standardisation Organisation (ISO). ISO 7010 is a norm, not a law, and in general, companies are not obliged to adopt ISO 7010 safety signs in workplaces. However, national legislation can refer to the ISO 7010 norm and when it does, ISO 7010 safety signs become mandatory, as is the case in France for example. Because of this, government bodies in several countries already advise companies to use ISO 7010 safety signs, especially


  • When new facilities need to be equipped with safety signs

  • When it is time to replace old, worn or faded safety signs


5 Categories of ISO 7010 Safety Signs

5 categories of ISO 7010 compliant signs can be identified based on specific shape and colour combinations. These categories are:


  1. Prohibition signs

  2. Mandatory signs

  3. Warning signs

  4. Fire equipment & fire action signs

  5. Safe condition & first aid signs

Not all signage is covered by the ISO 7010 norm, other signage is guided by:


  • GHS/CLP signs on pipes and containers carrying chemical substances and mixes

  • Sign regulations for specific industries and contexts, including marine and water safety

  • Electrical safety signage

  • Lean signage, meant to increase workplace efficiency


Safety Colours and Shapes

Safety Colours and Shapes | Signs Inc.
Mandatory Signs | Signs Inc.

Mandatory Signs

Mandatory signs are used to indicate that a particular course of action must be undertaken. ISO 7010 mandatory signs always include a white circle on a blue background with a standardised  white pictogram. Well known signs include ‘wear eye protection’, ‘wear ear protection’, ‘wear protective gloves’ and ‘wear a mask’.

Warning Signs | Signs Inc.

Warning Signs

Warning signs are used to identify potential hazards in order to warn visitors and staff to be cautious. ISO 7010 warning signs always include a black triangle on a yellow background with a standardised black pictogram. Well known signs include the general warning sign, the forklift traffic warning sign, the slippery surface warning sign and the toxic material warning sign.

Fire Equipment and Fire Action Signs | Signs Inc.

Fire Equipment & Fire Action Signs

Fire equipment & fire action signs are used to quickly identify fire exits and fire equipment. ISO 7010 fire equipment & fire action signs always include a white square on a red background with a standardised white pictogram and an additional standardised ‘flame’ pictogram. Well known signs include the fire extinguisher sign, the fire alarm call point sign and the fire ladder sign.

Safe Condition and First Aid Signs | Signs Inc.

Safe Condition & First Aid Signs

Safe condition & first aid signs are used to indicate where emergency exits and safety & health equipment can be found. ISO 7010 safe condition & first aid signs always include a white square on a green background with a standardised white pictogram. Well known signs include the heart defibrillator sign, the eyewash station sign, the evacuation assembly point sign and emergency exit signs.

Key Terms and Definitions

Image Content Written description of the elements of a graphical symbol or safety sign and their relative disposition

Referent Idea or object that a graphical symbol is intended to represent

Safety Sign Sign giving a general safety message, obtained by a combination of a colour and geometric shape and which, by the addition of a graphical symbol, gives a particular safety message

Safety Sign Original safety sign with which a referent, a graphical representation and a description of the application are associated

Supplementary Sign Sign that is supportive of another sign and the main purpose of which is to provide additional clarification

Guidance Links


The Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996 (UK)

The Health and Safety Regulations 1996 UK

This guidance is for employers and dutyholders, and others who have responsibility for the control of work sites and premises, or operating equipment requiring verbal and/or non-verbal communications. This third edition provides practical advice on how to comply with the Health and Safety (Safety Signs and Signals) Regulations 1996.

It also updates references to legislation and standards and has been amended to accommodate the changes relating to the labelling and packaging of chemicals made by the Classification, Labelling and Packaging of Chemicals (Amendments to Secondary Legislation) Regulations 2015.

Guide to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 - Chapter 1 of Part 7: Safety Signs at Places of Work (Ireland)

Guide to the Safety, Health, and Welfare at Work Regulations 2007 | Signs Inc.

This Guide is aimed at safety and health practitioners, employers, managers, employees, safety representatives and others to give guidance on Chapter 1 of Part 7 (Regulations 158 to 162) and the related Schedule 9 to the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 299 of 2007) as amended by the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) (Amendment) Regulations 2007 (S.I. No. 732 of 2007) and Safety, Health and Welfare at Work (General Application) (Amendment No 2) Regulations 2016 ( S.I No 70 of 2016) relating to safety signs at places of work. The objective of the Guide is to give general guidance aimed at the prevention of occupational accidents or ill health. It is not intended as a legal interpretation of the legislation.


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