Electrical Safety Signs & Symbols


Electrical hazards pose dangerous risks to employees in the workplace. Both the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) have regulations concerning warning signs for electrical hazards. The only significant difference in the regulations involves the color of the wording and background of the sign.


  • OSHA and ANSI require warning signs to be posted when a significant hazard may cause damage to property, injury or death. The sign must define the hazard and warn of possible results if it is not avoided. Symbols should reinforce the message of the sign.


  • The signal word used on the sign is determined by the likelihood of an accident happening and the potential injury that results from the accident. “Danger” is used when an accident will happen and the result will be death or serious injury. If an accident could happen and the probability of death or serious injury could or will happen, “warning” is used on the sign. If the injury will be moderate or minor, “caution” is used, and if the result could be property damage, “notice” is used.


  • The signs must have rounded edges with no sharp corners that could cause injury. Danger signs use the colors red and black on white backgrounds and caution signs use yellow and black. Notice signs use blue background with white lettering. Wording of the signs should be clear and convey the warning message simply. The letters must be large enough to be seen in the available light and from an appropriate distance.


  • The general symbol for electricity follows a lightning bolt design. Shock or voltage hazards show the bolt or the bolt on or through a hand. Static hazards use the bottom of a shoe with the lightning bolt on the bottom of it. Buried cable signs use a bolt with an arrow pointing downward. The universal symbol for danger, an exclamation point enclosed in a triangle, is often used as a safety symbol as well.


  • The sign wording must identify the hazard, provide a method to avoid the hazard and list potential consequences if the hazard is not avoided. The alert word should be clearly visible and catch the attention of the employee. The statements must be direct and clear to avoid confusion and be visible from far enough away that the employee can react to avoid the hazard.

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