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Genersl Guidelines, Size and Color, Shapes, Subject Matter, General Rules and more.
By Dr. Richard P. Borkowski
Published: Fall 2000

Coaches and fitness instructors have a responsibility to present the benefits of weight training. They also have a duty to warn individuals about the potential dangers associated with participation.
Strategically placed and well designed signs are an inexpensive, simple and too often overlooked strategy to inform and, at the same time, warn weight room users. Signage may not insure a participant’s safety but it can lower the chance of injury. Well planned signs help us meet our duty to warn and inform while lowering the chance of injury. They also demonstrate your concern and credibility.
Consider the following game plan for your
weight room.

General Guidelines

1. Ask yourself, would a sign or label improve safety? Where would they be most conspicuous?

2. Signs are to help, not to decorate and not to confuse.

3. Signs should be simple, short and clearly stated.

4. Signs are not replacements for good instruction and supervision.

5. Signs should be placed at the sight line of the majority of those who will be using the facility. This is usually between 5’ to 7’ high.

6. Labels should be placed so that the user can see them! I’ve seen labels placed behind seats, facing walls and on top of machines--all less effective examples!

7. Avoid multiple information signs.
Listing 21 rules is a lecture, not a safety sign.

8. Keep signs as positive as possible. Signs that start with “Do Not” are generally ineffective.

9. Orientation should include pointing out the

10. Replace all damaged, illegible or missing signs.

11. Manufacturers generally supply labels. They should address the possibility of injury or death if caution is not used.

Size and Color

11. Wall sign letters should be at least 2” high. Key words, such as “Warning” or “Caution,” should be at the top and about two to three times the size of the other print.

12. Remember to place contrasting colored strips on steps. A one to two inch wide strip is normal.

13. Some colors grab attention better than others.
For example:
• A danger sign is usually white letters on a red
• A warning sign is usually black letters on an
orange background.
• A caution sign is usually black letters on a
yellow background.
• A general safety sign is usually white letters on a green background.
• Borders should also be contrasting.


14. Different shapes can be used to emphasize meaning. For example:
• Rectangular signs generally mean information.
• Triangle signs mean caution.
• Eight sided signs mean danger.
• A circular sign can be eye catching.

Subject Matter

15. Colors and shapes are important, but even more important is the information that these signs convey.

16. Use only simple words, phrases or graphics that are easy to understand.

17. Use only internationally accepted graphics. Remember that simple words are better than complex graphics. However, symbol signs may be more helpful to multi-cultured users than words.

18. Sign subjects include:
• Information, such as “Replace weights to
storage racks.”
• Warnings, such as “Always use a spotter.”
• Exit signs.
• Rules of the Weight Room (see sidebar).
• Phone and emergency numbers.
• Motivational signs.

Weight Training Rules

General Rules

• Only students who have passed the instruc-
tional course may use the weight room.
• The room may be used only with
proper supervision.
• Shirt and shoes are required.
• Proper stretching, warm up and cool
down are required.
• No spectators allowed.
• Never interfere with the exerciser.

Concerning Machine Weights

• Read the information label before using.
• Keep pins in the machines.
• Avoid quick movements.
• Never drop weight plates.

Concerning Free Weights

• Spotters must be used.
• Use collars.
• Return all weight plates to racks.

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