ISO 3864

ISO 3864:2011
Graphical symbols — Safety colours and safety signs
Example safety sign designed according to ISO 3864-1
AbbreviationISO 3864
Year startedMarch 1984 (1984-03)
First publishedMarch 1984 (1984-03)
Latest version2
OrganizationInternational Organization for Standardization
CommitteeISO/TC 145/SC 2 Safety identification, signs, shapes, symbols and colours
DomainSafety signage design

ISO 3864 specifies international standards for safety signs and markings in workplaces and public facilities. These labels are graphical, to overcome language barriers. The standard is split into four parts.


ISO 3864 consists of four parts, that provide more specific and situation specific guidance depending on the application.

Part 1 explains how to layout the components of safety signage, dictate the color scheme and sizing information. Part 2 covers the same concepts as part one, but specifically for labels applied on machinery, vehicles and consumer goods. Part 3 contains guidance for designing new safety symbols. Part 4 specifies the standards for phosphorescent material and colours of a sign, as well as testing to confirm these signs meets required standards.

Components of ISO 3864


These are the colours specified in ISO Standard 3864-4 in RAL colour standard.

Meaning RAL Name RAL Number RGB Hex Example of Colour
Warning Signal Yellow 1003 #F9A900
Prohibition/Fire Equipment Signal Red 3001 #9B2423
Mandatory Signal Blue 5005 #005387
Safe Condition Signal Green 6032 #237F52
Backgrounds and Symbol Signal White 9003 #ECECE7
Symbol Signal Black 9004 #2B2B2C

In addition, ISO standard 3864-2:2016 lays out the following colours that correspond to levels of risk. This standard adds "Orange" as an incremental colour to the pallette above.

Meaning Signal word Background colour of panel Contrast colour Definition RGB Hex Example of Colour
Low level of risk CAUTION Yellow Black RAL 1003 (per ISO 3864-4) #F9A900
Medium level of risk WARNING Orange Black RAL 2010, Munsell 2,5YR6/14G, or Munsell 5YR6/15G #D05D29
High level of risk DANGER Red White RAL 3001 (per ISO 3864-4) #9B2423


ISO 3864-3 defines four types of arrow designs, and specifies what situations each type should be used in.

Arrow Type Arrow image Meaning Arrowhead angle in degrees
A General movement of objects 60°

Direction of rotation 60°
C Movement of forces; pressures, fluids, gasses 84°
D Movement of people 84° – 86°

Safety markings

Part 1 also provides design standards for 'safety markings', which are safety colors combined with a contrasting color in an alternating 45° stripe pattern, intended to increase the visibility of an object, location or safety message.

Marking Colours Meaning
borderless Yellow/Black Indicate location of a hazard
borderless Red/White Indicate location of firefighting equipment or a prohibition.
borderless Blue/White Mandatory Action
borderless Green/White Safe condition

Signage design

In addition to prescribing colours for safety signage, ISO 3864 also specifies how to layout the elements of the sign: A symbol and optional 'supplemental sign' which contains the supplementary text message.

Multi-message signs

For situations where more than one message needs to be communicated, ISO 3864 also provides guidance for "multiple signs", which consist of two or more symbol and text messages combined into a single sign. Additionally, fire protection and safe condition signs, which mark the location of equipment or exits can be combined with an arrow to indicate the direction to the item depicted on the sign.

Related standards

The corresponding American standard is ANSI Z535. ANSI Z535.1 also explicitly uses multiple levels of hazard, including Yellow (Pantone 109) for 'caution' messages, and Orange (Pantone 151) for stronger 'warning' messages. Like ISO 3864, ANSI Z535 includes multiple sections: ANSI Z535.6-2006 defines an optional accompanying text in one or more languages.

ISO 3864 is extended by ISO 7010, which provides a set of symbols based on the principles and properties specified in ISO 3864.

See also


  1. ^ For example, a hazard message: "Acid" and mandatory message "Wear Gloves".


  1. ^ a b c d e International Organization for Standardization (April 2011). "ISO 3864-1:2011 – Graphical symbols — Safety colours and safety signs — Part 1: Design principles for safety signs and safety markings". Retrieved 20 January 2023.
  2. ^ a b International Organization for Standardization (December 2016). "ISO 3864-2:2016 – Graphical symbols — Safety colours and safety signs — Part 2: Design principles for product safety labels". Retrieved 20 January 2023.
  3. ^ a b c International Organization for Standardization (February 2012). "ISO 3864-3:2012 – Graphical symbols — Safety colours and safety signs — Part 3: Design principles for graphical symbols for use in safety signs". Retrieved 20 January 2023.
  4. ^ a b International Organization for Standardization (March 2011). "ISO 3864-4:2011 – Graphical symbols — Safety colours and safety signs — Part 4: Colorimetric and photometric properties of safety sign materials". Retrieved 20 January 2023.
  5. ^ "Sicherheitsfarben – Etikettenwissen".
  6. ^ "RAL Farben | RAL CLASSIC Farben". (in German). Retrieved 2023-03-31.
  7. ^ "U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, 49 CFR 172.407". Retrieved 2020-09-28.
  8. ^ "ANSI NEMA Z535". ANSI IBR Standards Portal. American National Standards Institute; National Electrical Manufacturers Association. Retrieved 2020-09-28.
  9. ^ Frantz, J. Paul. "Update of ANSI Standards for Warnings and Future Directions" (PDF). Applied Safety and Ergonomics, Inc. Retrieved 2020-09-28.