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Classic safety posters

Posters have long been used to communicate safety messages to workers in industry, and to the general population (often in a fairly paternalist manner). The design of some of these posters is very striking; we include a few examples in the gallery below.

  • Don’t fool with compressed air (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, via Wellcome Library, London)
  • Long hair is dangerous, for the London College of Printing, by Tom Eckersley, a famous English poster artist.
  • Handle with care, Missouri Work Projects Administration. The WPA was an agency in the USA created as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal, and provided employment to millions of people during the Great Depression.
  • De-energize before maintenance work on equipment, a Soviet-era poster. Note the pedagogical detail with an inset zoom on the pressure gauge.
  • Use machine guards, another Soviet-era poster.
  • Watch for protruding nails, another Soviet-era poster.

  • Be careful; avoid accidents! From the Portugese Labour ministry. See a collection from Universidade de Aveiro.
  • Homo Computerus, by Jerzy Skakun from CIOP, the Polish occupational safety agency.
  • Careful of the slope!, by Jerzy Golonka from CIOP, the Polish occupational safety agency.
  • Fraying cables, poster by the National Safety Council of Australia, based on an illustration by the Belgian artist Calisto Peretti for the ANPAT.
  • Secure any holes in flooring, thanks to Memory of the Netherlands.
  • Preventing fuel errors in aviation, from USAIG.
  • Syphilis, a sexually transmitted disease, was a major source of health problems in the USA before the 1950s, when penicillin was widely used as a very effective treatment. It could remove workers from the workforce, when they were needed for the war effort. Poster by the US Work Projects Administration.
  • The importance of personal protective equipment such as safety shoes is highlighted by this poster from technology company IBM.
  • Poster by technology company IBM promoting occupational safety. By Ken White.

    Please note that these posters are not our own work, and are excluded from the Creative Commons Attribution licence that covers most of the content in this site.

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