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The Surprising Psychology behind Health and Safety Signs

Written by on December 14th, 2016.      0 comments

Health and safety signs are not necessarily attractive or decorative — they are designed to give warning and remind people on how to act in a certain location.

But have you ever noticed that safety signs seem to follow very specific design trends? They all feature large, block text with minimal graphics, with stick figures or other simple icons.

Despite appearing simple and uninteresting, it turns out much thought and research goes into the design.

The Colour is Important

Health and safety signs come in a variety of colours — the colour of the sign allows us to determine which signs are important and which are not. For example, we perceive blue signs and green signs as gentle reminders, while red and yellow signs are for more urgent warnings.

With red and yellow signs, there is a difference between the two. Although both denote urgency, red is used for certain hazards, whereas yellow is used for potential threats.

Blue is used for signs that have obligatory instructions or information. Although blue signs do not warn of life threatening situations, they are used to display strict guidelines that must be adhered to. For example, our mandatory sign for head protection on construction sites features a blue circle displaying a helmeted head.

Unlike blue signs, green signs tend to be used to highlight important features such as exit and emergency signs. On the other hand, black and white signs, are common for notices and informational signs.

Signs Alert, But Do Not Distract

Although signs are designed to grab your attention, they are specifically designed to not grab too much attention. Signs are simple and have minimal graphics, so you can register the message in a split second. The sign cannot be too distracting, as this could actually create a more dangerous situation.

For example, road signs need to catch a driver’s attention, but allow them to quickly refocus on the road. Otherwise, they may look at the sign for too long and cause a collision. This is the reason why safety signs rarely feature flashing, blinking lights — although this catches the driver’s attention, it is too distracting and becomes dangerous.

So there you have it: health and safety signs are more than simple informational signs. They are carefully designed and comply with New Zealand standards.

For more information on our industrial safety signs and road signs, contact us today. 


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