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Are You Seeing Green? You Must Be Working Safely (or Irish)

- March 16, 2018 by Thomas Jolliff, ARM, CEES, ALCM (View all posts by Thomas)

With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, the color green stirs up images of Ireland, a landscape painted with lush green foliage, and on March 17 each year, for green beer. It is even their national color, for Leprechaun sake!

In honor of St. Paddy’s Day, I took a deeper look at the color green as it relates to the world of safety and risk management.

In the U.S., both OSHA and ANSI (American National standards Institute) require color-coded labels and tape be used to mark hazards and alert employees to dangers that exist in a facility or workplace. The colors help identify the level of severity, with the ultimate purpose being to reduce the likelihood of workplace accidents and injuries.

The color green typically denotes the location of first aid equipment, safety equipment, respirators, safety showers, etc. in the form of a green cross.  The green cross is a symbol of nature and life, and depending on what country you live in, the green cross symbol has various meanings.

In the U.S., which established the Williams-Steiger Occupational Safety and Health Act in 1970, the green cross is a well-recognized symbol of the National Safety Council.  The NSC’s mission is to eliminate preventable deaths at work, in homes and communities, and on the road through leadership, research, education and advocacy.

In Japan, a flag with a green cross (midori-juji) on a white field is flown on construction sites and in factories to encourage workers to remember health and safety. It also appears on badges and armbands for the same purpose.

In Germany, the symbol represents human health, as well as concern for the protection of animals and plants.

In Ireland, green represents more than beer and four-leaf clovers. The country’s first steps toward improving workplace safety happened in 1955 with the Factories Act. The purpose of the Act was to address workplace conditions in factories, which included an application for “young persons” in certain occupations. The Act also addressed cleanliness, overcrowding, environmental conditions, sanitation, and safety devices.

Whether you are observing St. Patrick’s Day this month, or planning your next workplace safety awareness campaign, remember to think “green” and have a safe day.


Website references:

A History of the Green Cross (12, February 2012) Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/ryoichihoriguchi/home/greencrosslogos


Safety Color Coding Labels and Tape (2017). Retrieved from


What is Green Cross? The difference between the Green Cross and the Red Cross! (nd). Retrieved from                                                  http://www.profarma.al/index.php/news-and-media-profarma/blog/174

Factories Act, 1995 (nd) Retrieved from   http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/eli/1955/act/10/enacted/en/print#sec4

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