2.3 Signage

The purpose of laboratory signage is to provide emergency responders, Facilities Management staff, and visitors with information regarding potential laboratory hazards, required precautions for entry, and contact information. This comprehensive sign fulfills several hazard posting requirements and makes hazard communication at the University of Minnesota more standardized and recognizable.

Example of lab signage


All laboratories, support rooms, and laboratory storage areas containing hazardous materials above the threshold level (see below), hazardous equipment, or other physical hazards must be posted with standard hazard warning signage.

The signs must be updated as information changes or annually, whichever occurs first. The principal investigator (PI) or lab manager in charge of the laboratory must verify the information is corrected at least once per year and date the posting.

Threshold Levels for Posting

Small quantities of most hazardous materials do not represent a hazard to first responders. Therefore, thresholds for concentration, activity, and volume have been set to establish when signage is required (see Table 1).

Table 1: Threshold Levels for posting signage

Hazard Class

Threshold (if exceeded, add pictogram)

Corrosive Liquids (pH < 3.5 or > 10.5). 4 liters
Flammable Liquids 4 liters
Flammable Solids any amount
Flammable Gases any amount
Oxidizers (liquid/solid) 4 liters / 1 kilogram
Organic Peroxides 1 kilogram
Water-reactive chemicals any amount
Pyrophoric (air-reactive) materials any amount
Radioactive materials any amount
Biosafety Level 1 any
Biosafety Level 2 any
Self-Reactive (shock/heat sensitive) Agents any amount
Carcinogenic, mutagenic Agents 100 grams
Highly Toxic materials 100 grams

Gas Under Pressure (Compressed Gas Cylinders) – excludes aerosol containers.

Any amount

Laser(s) – excludes completely enclosed and consumer-type lasers.

Any class IIIb, and IV lasers.


  1. PI/Lab Manager, delegate or group (in case of shared lab space) determines which hazards are contained within the laboratory (see Table 1).
  2. Determine if quantity thresholds for signage are exceeded (see Table 1).  A laboratory may choose to include a hazard symbol for a chemical risk in the laboratory even if the threshold is not exceeded.
  3. PI/Lab Manager or delegate will use template provided by DEHS to post on entrance to main laboratory and all support rooms containing hazards.
  4. PI/Lab Manager or delegate identifies a minimum of two 24 hour emergency contacts for the laboratory. These contacts must be individuals who can describe the hazards contained in the laboratory. If radiation is used in the laboratory, the Permit Holders contact information must be listed on the sign.

Instructions for Creating your Sign

  1. Download either vertical or horizontal version (choose based on existing sign holders) of Lab Sign.
  2. Open Pictograms PowerPoint.
  3. Copy and paste symbols appropriate for your lab from PowerPoint slide into signage template.
  4. In text box under symbol, you can type in specific hazards found in your lab.
  5. If lab uses radiation, the Radiation symbol needs to be put on the sign.
  6. If lab uses Biohazardous Materials, the Biohazard symbol has to be put on the sign and the appropriate Biosafety level i.e. BSL 1 or BSL 2 has to be typed into the textbox below the symbol.
  7. If you have unused boxes (both picture and text) you can edit them so they are no longer visible by right clicking the grey box, click 'format shape,' and set Fill to No Fill, and close the dialogue box.
  8. Choose the appropriate Requirement messages from pull down menu. You can add your own by choosing “Edit” in the pull down menu and then typing in your specific message.
  9. Fill in Emergency Contacts section with 24-hour emergency contacts for your lab.
  10. Fill in the Update date.
  11. Print on color printer if available.
  12. Post on Laboratory door and other rooms as applicable.
  13. You can remove BSL and Radiation signage from your lab door when you post this sign. 


Lab Signage Sample 
Lab Signage Landscape
Lab Signage Portrait