The author:

David Jaenike

February 19, 2021United StatesOpinion

Color matters in the workplace.

Colors. Not generally something safety professionals give much thought to in the field. However we as humans make constant subconscious associations with specific colors, especially in the workplace. Think about basic signage in your facility: red means danger, yellow and orange mean warning, and green means good. Now take a second to think about that. We are able to convey powerful messages simply by exploiting different colors. These colors are ubiquitous in the workplace: signs, labels, emails, floor markings, drawings, the list goes on. Even though we may not actively think about colors, our brains are certainly responding to them. Here are some general associations with each color:

  • Red: Energy, power, courage, strength.
  • Orange: Excitement, enthusiasm, adventure.
  • Yellow: Optimism, clarity, energy.
  • Green: Growth, renewal, balance, calmness.
  • Blue: Trust, dependability, stability.
  • Purple: Luxury, royalty, power.
  • White: Purity, innocence, light, heaven.
  • Black: Power, authority, formality.

Scope it out

Beyond these general associations with different colors you can abstract out even further and combine them to convey even more messaging. This concept is used constantly by artists, web designers, marketing gurus - so why not safety professionals?

Why would I use this?

Think about everything you do at work that uses color. Putting together a training for example. Typically when we put together a training we will choose from one of the default PowerPoint templates provided by Microsoft, and from there our creative energy is focused on content. But if you really want to get crazy and elevate your training slides try selecting a color theme based on the content of the training. RCRA training? Try green, blue and a little orange - sustainability/environment themed, with some orange to liven it up. Think of what messages your training is trying to convey, and select your colors accordingly.

Not all colors go together

No they do not, but some do. My advice, use the internet:


This platform can help guide you to choose the right colors based on what message you’re trying to convey. In your next company email, select a color scheme based on the tone of your email. Don’t get too crazy - keep it dark font/white background, but try selecting pictures (if the email includes them) that match the color theme. If you’re looking to learn more about color theory here are a few sites to get you pointed in the right direction:

Color combinationsColor theory

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