Know your signs – quick visual recognition of signs is paramount to understanding their meaning and the message or directive they need to convey.

Meaning, colours and examples of graphics used for signage are given below.  For staff and crew training and as an ad memoir please refer to our Know Your Signs Poster

Prohibition signs

  • Used to limit access and prohibit activity so as to reduce and control risk
  • A black symbol contained within a red circle with diagonal crossbar, white text on a red background if necessary.

Hazard signs

  • Used to emphasise identified hazards that cannot be eliminated categorized by the words ‘Danger’, ‘Warning’ and ‘Caution’.
  • A black symbol contained within a yellow triangle with black border and text if necessary.

Fire equipment

  • Each item of fire fighting equipment should be marked so as to be readily identifiable.
  • A white symbol with a flame determinant within a red square or rectangle with white text if necessary.

Safe condition- escape route signs

  • Used to indicate an evacuation route, location of safety equipment, safety facility or a safe action.
  • A white symbol within a green square or rectangle with white text if necessary.

Mandatory signs

  • Used to give specific instructions and information as to ensure the safety of the crew, passengers and vessel.
  • A white symbol within a blue circle with white text if necessary.

Multi-message signs

  • Used to convey a mixture of Hazard, Prohibition and Mandatory messages they adequately inform without the need for multiple signs.
  • A white background in combination with the above specifications.

Hazard diamond signs

  • Used to identify substances and articles subject to the provisions of the IMDG Code classed 1 to 9 according to the hazard.
  • Reproduced as signs reflecting the labels, marks and signs according to the IMDG Code.


Order your Maritime Progress Book

The Maritime Progress book is an authoritative reference manual of signage, safety awareness and training material onboard ship. The book has been designed to be compact focusing on the signs most commonly used onboard all types of vessel. Specific reference to International regulations, standards, codes and guidelines are easily found as appropriate within the pages of the book.

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