Yellow: Color-Coded Safety

17th Jun 2016

Safety has a color, and it’s yellow. There are a good many signs and safety-oriented things that are yellow throughout our society. Most of our traffic signs are on a yellow background, such as pedestrian crossings or signs warning of lanes merging on the highway. Yellow is also the middle color on our traffic lights; while it is okay to go through the intersection on a yellow light, it may not be safe to do so. The symbol for biohazards include yellow, caution tape is yellow, and many safety rails or warnings in industrial settings are yellow. But how did yellow, the color of sunshine, become so strongly associated with safety for oneself and others?

Safety, Color-coded

Reflecting on the sort of “brand” colors carry, in regards to safety shows that yellow is not alone in representing some part of keeping ourselves, and those around us, safe:

  • Red is branded as dangerous or incorrect. A red light means “stop, it is not safe for you to go through,” a red “X” represents a cancellation of whatever it is upon, and even incorrect answers on grade school assignments were marked in red pen.
  • Green means you are good to go, and represents money and progress. A green light is the sign that the way is all clear. Green means good, go, and, not surprisingly, represents money.
  • Orange has come to represent construction zone signs, and is now similar to yellow in the sense that it represents safety, although the safety of someone else. Many traffic guards and ground crews at airports wear reflective orange vests for their own protection, when pilots see the orange vest they know there are people on the ground around the plane.
  • Black traditionally represents extreme danger. Black is the color of pirates and the skull and crossbones logo that represents villains, danger, and, most recently, poison. Black has been replaced or supplemented in many instances, largely because of its lack of luminescence. After all, a warning doesn’t mean much if it is hard to see or read.

But, Why Yellow?

Yellow has likely become the standard in safety color-coding for one simple reason: it’s really easy to see. When yellow is used in an otherwise dark environment it has a high amount of contrast, which makes it easy to notice and read quickly. In an industrial setting, surrounded by dark metal structures, a yellow sign draws the attention of the eye. In an industrial setting, safety is the most important thing for workers to know and understand, so making safety-oriented things yellow should greatly increase individual safety.

At Safety Rail Company we can make our safety rails and equipment in any desired color, but most often color them yellow. You could say that we are safety experts, so we know yellow well. Contact us today to find out what yellow can do for you, and take advantage of our one-on-one service model and customized safety solutions.

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