|Graphical symbols — Safety colours and safety signs|
|Year started||March 1984|
|First published||March 1984|
|Organization||International Organization for Standardization|
|Committee||ISO/TC 145/SC 2 Safety identification, signs, shapes, symbols and colours|
|Domain||Safety signage design|
ISO 3864 specifies international standards for safety signs and markings in workplaces and public facilities. These labels are graphical, to overcome language barriers. The standard is split into four parts.
ISO 3864 consists of four parts, that provide more specific and situation specific guidance depending on the application.
- ISO 3864-1:2011 Part 1: Design principles for safety signs and safety markings
- ISO 3864-2:2016 Part 2: Design principles for product safety labels
- ISO 3864-3:2012 Part 3: Design principles for graphical symbols for use in safety signs
- ISO 3864-4:2011 Part 4: Colorimetric and photometric properties of safety sign materials
Part 1 explains how to layout the components of safety signage, dictate the color scheme and sizing information. Part 2 covers the same concepts as part one, but specifically for labels applied on machinery, vehicles and consumer goods. Part 3 contains guidance for designing new safety symbols. Part 4 specifies the standards for phosphorescent material and colours of a sign, as well as testing to confirm these signs meets required standards.
Components of ISO 3864
|Meaning||RAL Name||RAL Number||RGB Hex||Example of Colour|
|Prohibition/Fire Equipment||Signal Red||3001||#9B2423|
|Safe Condition||Signal Green||6032||#237F52|
|Backgrounds and Symbol||Signal White||9003||#ECECE7|
In addition, ISO standard 3864-2:2016 lays out the following colours that correspond to levels of risk. This standard adds "Orange" as an incremental colour to the pallette above.
|Meaning||Background colour of panel||Contrast colour||Definition||RGB Hex||Example of Colour|
|Low level of risk||Yellow||Black||RAL 1003 (per ISO 3864-4)||#F9A900|
|Medium level of risk||Orange||Black||RAL 2010, Munsell 2,5YR6/14G, or Munsell 5YR6/15G||#D05D29|
|High level of risk||Red||White||RAL 3001 (per ISO 3864-4)||#9B2423|
ISO 3864-3 defines four types of arrow designs, and specifies what situations each type should be used in.
|Arrow Type||Arrow image||Meaning||Arrowhead angle in degrees|
|General movement of objects||60°|
|Direction of rotation||60°|
|Movement of forces; pressures, fluids, gasses||84°|
|Movement of people||84° - 86°|
Part 1 also provides design standards for 'safety markings', which are safety colors combined with a contrasting color in an alternating 45° stripe pattern, intended to increase the visibility of an object, location or safety message.
|Yellow/Black||Indicate location of a hazard|
|Red/White||Indicate location of firefighting equipment or a prohibitation.|
In addition to prescribing colours for safety signage, ISO 3864 also specifies how to layout the elements of the sign: A symbol and optional 'supplemental sign' which contains the supplementary text message.
A 'mandatory' sign, in a vertical format.
A 'mandatory' sign, in a horizontal format, with the text box to the right of the symbol.
A 'fire protection' sign, in a vertical format.
A 'fire protection' sign, in horizontal format, with the text box to the right of the symbol.
For situations where more than one message needs to be communicated[a], ISO 3864 also provides guidance for "multiple signs", which consist of two or more symbol and text messages combined into a single sign. Additionally, fire protection and safe condition signs, which mark the location of equipment or exits can be combined with an arrow to indicate the direction to the item depicted on the sign.
A multi-message sign for hazard and mandatory action, in a vertical format
A multi-message sign, with hazard, prohibition and mandatory action, in a horizontal format.
An exit symbol, combined with an arrow pointed up, to the left.
A Fire extinguisher sign, combined with an arrow to the right.
The corresponding American standard is ANSI Z535. ANSI Z535.1 also explicitly uses multiple levels of hazard, including Yellow (Pantone 109) for 'caution' messages, and Orange (Pantone 151) for stronger 'warning' messages. Like ISO 3864, ANSI Z535 includes multiple sections: ANSI Z535.6-2006 defines an optional accompanying text in one or more languages.
- ISO 7010 - Standard for safety symbols used in ISO 3864.
- ANSI Z535 - Corresponding American standard for safety signage, product warning labels and product instructions.
- For example, a hazard message: "Acid" and mandatory message "Wear Gloves".
- International Organization for Standardization (April 2011). "ISO 3864-1:2011 - Graphical symbols — Safety colours and safety signs — Part 1: Design principles for safety signs and safety markings". iso.org. Retrieved 20 January 2023.
- International Organization for Standardization (December 2016). "ISO 3864-2:2016 - Graphical symbols — Safety colours and safety signs — Part 2: Design principles for product safety labels". iso.org. Retrieved 20 January 2023.
- International Organization for Standardization (February 2012). "ISO 3864-3:2012 - Graphical symbols — Safety colours and safety signs — Part 3: Design principles for graphical symbols for use in safety signs". iso.org. Retrieved 20 January 2023.
- International Organization for Standardization (March 2011). "ISO 3864-4:2011 - Graphical symbols — Safety colours and safety signs — Part 4: Colorimetric and photometric properties of safety sign materials". iso.org. Retrieved 20 January 2023.
- "Sicherheitsfarben – Etikettenwissen".
- "RAL Farben | RAL CLASSIC Farben". www.ral-farben.de (in German). Retrieved 2023-03-31.
- "U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, 49 CFR 172.407". Retrieved 2020-09-28.
- "ANSI NEMA Z535". ANSI IBR Standards Portal. American National Standards Institute; National Electrical Manufacturers Association. Retrieved 2020-09-28.
- Frantz, J. Paul. "Update of ANSI Standards for Warnings and Future Directions" (PDF). Applied Safety and Ergonomics, Inc. Retrieved 2020-09-28.