A Guide to Understanding the Shapes Used for Safety Signs

Work accident. First aid training.Health and safety regulators require the use of safety signs in business premises to warn people of dangers or provide information. These signs should be easy to understand at a glance since, in crisis, the ability to interpret a symbol quickly can save lives.

They are color- and shape-coded for easy interpretation. So when buying your safety signs and symbols, it is essential to pay attention to the shapes. The ones you select should be the right one in conveying the intended safety message.

Here is a guide for understanding the shapes used for different safety signs.


Circles are for both prohibition and mandatory signs. Prohibition signs are in red and used in conveying a “do not” message and have a single diagonal line running across it from left to right, at a 45-degree angle.

Mandatory signs indicate actions, which must be carried out to comply with set statutory requirements like wearing of safety hats in constructions sites. These signs are color-coded blue, and some state regulations require these signs to include a pictogram.


These are for warning signs. They create awareness of a nearby hazard like a presence of inflammable liquids or radioactive substances. Warning signs consist of an equilateral triangle with a centrally-placed pictogram against a yellow background.

Rectangles and squares

These are for information and fire equipment signs. These signs are color-coded green with a text or pictogram centrally-positioned in the rectangle or square. These include signs indicating emergency exits, escape routes, and first aid equipment.

Fire equipment signs such as fire extinguisher indicators are red-coded with pictograms, texts, or both, indicating the use and location of the equipment.

Safety sign shapes are universal, and world safety regulators set them. Some local regulations might, however, have additional requirements for your safety signs. Be sure to check if there are other regulations or laws in your locality before buying safety signs to comply appropriately.