If only scientists had determined what color stands out best against the blue sky so they may use that color for safety signs. Oh wait a minute, scientists have figured this out! The color is called “safety orange” and it’s the natural complimenting color to azure – the sky’s blue color. Safety orange can be seen on all sorts of items, from construction signs to hunter hats. This article will take a look at the generals and specifics regarding this shade of orange as well as its use in safety signs.

What is safety orange

Would the orange color of a sign by any other name be as noticeable? Not to get Shakespearean, but safety orange gets called a lot of things, although according to OSHA, it’s the same color. In fact, safety orange is also called OSHA orange. Other names for safety orange include blaze orange, vivid orange, hunter orange, and for some reason, Omaha orange.

For anyone who is interested, safety orange is actually called Omaha orange because a thrifty man from Ford Brothers Van & Storage in Omaha was looking for an affordable color to paint his trucks. Those trucks became known as Allied Van Lines, and they are Omaha orange to this day. The color came from the mixing of leftover paint, after the thrifty man made a deal.

The color orange is halfway between yellow and red on the color spectrum. In safety signs, yellow means caution and red means danger. Safety orange is a little beyond halfway between yellow and red on the visible light spectrum; it’s closer to red, which also places safety orange closer to danger on the safety spectrum. For OSHA compliance, safety orange is used to denote that parts of a machine are dangerous or energized.

Safety orange also must be worn by hunters to stay safe in the forest. Replica guns are required to have safety orange tips, to help clue law enforcement and others into the fact that it’s a fake gun. Perhaps safety orange is most widely recognized as the color of traffic cones and barrels. As mentioned earlier, safety orange works terrific for safety signs in road construction sites, due to its complementary contrast to the azure blue sky. Next to the sky, an Omaha orange safety sign will stand out the same way black letters do on a white sheet of paper.

How are colors used in safety signs

Safety orange isn’t the only color used for OSHA compliance in safety signs. OSHA actually has a safety code for signs using all the colors of the rainbow. As already mentioned, to OSHA, red means danger, orange is between red and yellow, and yellow means caution. Next on the spectrum is safety green, which according to OSHA is used to denote safety routes, exits and first aid kits. A safety blue sign will give important safety information. Currently, OSHA recognizes a safety purple, but has not defined what it means. Black, white and yellow used together typically denote traffic.

When it comes to making safety signs, there’s more to the message on them for OSHA compliance. Colors have meanings in the realm of safety, and whether people know the definitions of the OSHA safety colors or not, the connotations are there.


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