The Color Psychology of Safety Culture
By KyoungHee Choi
Color psychology is a fascinating field, deeply rooted in brain activity and human nature. Color psychology is a very important tool not only for safety culture but also for artists, designers and marketers. Color stimulates our brain and from the ancient times has proven to be a useful alternative psychotherapy. A lot of industries use color to drive caution and reduce risks and injuries. When it comes to safety, colors are an important way to communicate hazards to workers. The ANSI (American National Standards Institute) has established rules governing the meaning of specific colors. Standardized safety colors can help people easily recognize and understand the message being conveyed to improve safety.
What do you think of when you see the below colors?
“Purpose: Red should identify fire protection equipment, danger signs, containers of flammable liquids, and “STOP” buttons or switches. (OSHA)” Red color is associated with danger, power and attention. It stands out strongly and attracts attention more than any other color, at times signifying danger. Therefore, OSHA recommends using red to identify fire, fire protection equipment, danger, exits, stop signals, machinery stop switches, high risk of injury or death and emergency alarms.
Orange is associated with attraction, stimulation. As in between red and yellow colors, this color is use it as moderate risk of injury, guarding devices.
“Purpose: Yellow should be the basic color for designating caution and marking physical hazards. (OHSA)” Yellow color is associated with attention and warning. Yellow is the most noticeable color to the human eye, known to stimulate mental activity, awareness. It is the brightest on the visual spectrum. Therefore, this color is used for caution statements, materials handling and construction vehicles, hard hats, safety vests. That’s also the reason why taxicabs are painted in yellow as well as many pedestrian crossings.
“Purpose: Green should indicate safety-related instructions, procedures or the locations of safety equipment. (ANSI)” Green color is associated with nature, healing and strong emotional correspondence with safety. It is also strongly associated with peace and calmness. Green has the ability to blend in while still being recognizable. In industrial facilities, green is often used to designate safe areas and first aid equipment. It is symbol of health organizations, safety equipment or information.
Blue is associated with enthusiastic, spiritual and flexible. This is indicating no immediate hazard.
We see colors being used everywhere but few people recognize the power of color psychology. The harmony between safety communication and color psychology has always been linked. In order to prevent and reduce risk, injuries and accidents, color psychology has been analyzed and studied to better understand the psychological reactions that were caused by colors.
As a leading safety culture and operational excellence firm that anchors all of our work in brain science, Propulo understands that improving your workplace safety culture can keep workers safe and healthy. We offer the different perspectives on safety and safety culture transformation to make your workplace safer.