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Construction Dangers and Construction Safety Signs

OSHA safety signs for construction sites
OSHA Safety Signs Best Practices Guides

Written by Jack Rubinger

Construction sites are rife with dangers. OSHA statistics back this up. Scaffolding safety makes OSHA’s top 10 list every year. Frightening falls from ladders and scaffolds are generally due to improper construction or negligent maintenance including breaking planks, workers slipping and being struck by falling objects.

Injuries from contact with trucks, cranes, bulldozers, power tools and hand tools are a concern. Injuries caused by trenches collapsing are common among construction workers. Often, workers fail to use protective equipment or the equipment itself may break down.

Work-site safety requires that sites be adequately lit and stairways free of debris and materials. Slippery conditions caused by spills must be cleaned up promptly. Workers are required to wear eye protection, hard hats and boots with steel toes. Workers should not be permitted to work on exterior scaffolding when snow, ice or other materials create slick footing.

Construction safety signs and labels help communicate these dangers. How and where signs and labels are used is an important step to establish throughout the entire site.

Safety Sign Best Practices Guide

A complete reference guide to OSHA Sign Making

OSHA Compliant Safety Signs and General Construction Zone Safety

OSHA compliant construction safety signs must have round or blunt corners and no sharp edges, burrs, splinters, or other sharp projections. OSHA specifies that attaching the sign to a wall, post or other supporting material not cause any hazard.

The wording on signs should be easy to read using as few words as possible. The goal is to give people information to quickly understand dangers and take appropriate action.

OSHA Compliant Danger Signs

When making danger signs, design standards must be established. There cannot be any variation in the design of signs used to warn of specific dangers or radiation hazards, according to OSHA.

Red, black, and white are used for danger signs. There are two styles – the older style which had an oval circle containing the word “DANGER” or the newer standard referred to in ANSI Z535.2-2007 which states that Danger signs shall have the signal word “DANGER” in white letters on a rectangular safety red background placed at the top of the sign. The safety alert symbol shall precede the signal word. The base of the symbol shall be on the same horizontal line as the base of the letters of the signal word. The height of the safety alert symbol shall be equal to or exceed the signal word letter height. Existing stocks of safety tags procured to meet the previous editions may continue to be used and applied. However, these formats shall not be used for the procurement of new safety tags, safety signs, barricade tapes or labels.

OSHA states that all employees must be trained so they know that danger signs indicate an immediate danger and that special precautions are required.

Scaffolding and Ladder Safety Tags

Scaffolds give workers access to elevated heights and stable work surfaces. Ladders are useful, too, when used safely. Basic ladder safety tips include the following:

  • Never leave a raised ladder unattended
  • Be sure all locks on extension ladders are properly engaged
  • Straight, single and extension ladders should be set up at about a 75-degree angle

Scaffolding and ladder inspection tags indicate inspection due dates. Inspection tags communicate exact inspection requirements to employees. DuraTag custom tags attach directly to scaffolding and ladders for a secure display. Scaffold lockout tags protect workers from inoperable scaffolding. Red tags warn workers to not use scaffolds. Green and yellow tags show that the scaffold meets OSHA standards.

Printing your own construction safety signs requires adhering vinyl tape to a variety of surfaces found on construction sites. DuraLabel offers more than 50 types of supplies including a vinyl tape that’s especially designed to survive longer in outdoor temperatures. This 1/2” to 4” width tape works well in temperatures from -22 degrees Fahrenheit to 212 degrees. Signs and labels must perform outside – in the freezing cold, in the rain and snow, under natural light, when splattered by mud.


Everyone agrees that more construction safety signs, safety training and other precautions are needed. Greater awareness of construction site dangers, increased access to training and clear, concise visual communications all add up to increased safety in construction site areas.


The information presented in this document was obtained from sources that we deem reliable; Graphic Products does not guarantee accuracy or completeness. Graphic Products, Inc. makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied. Users of this document should consult municipal, state, and federal code and/or verify all information with the appropriate regulatory agency.

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