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Prohibitions on Private Property: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Are prohibition signs enforceable by law?

A.

Prohibition signs can be enforceable by law depending on the sign format and message. When created in accordance with the applicable standards and regulations, signs such as no trespassing, no soliciting, no guns, etc. can imply legal action for violation. 

Certain prohibition signs may imply other types of punitive action like fines, confiscation, etc such as for prohibited photography, mobile usage and more.

Q. What types of behaviors can prohibition signs discourage?

A.

 Prohibition signs are perfect visual tools to convey both warnings and reminders. These inform people about the rules and policies specific to your property. 

You can use a prohibition sign to discourage unwanted visitors and activities such as fishing, boating, swimming, walking on grass, picking flowers, peeing in public, etc. 

The signs can also be used to prohibit graffiti making, smoking, cell phone use, camera use, drone use, door knocking, and more. 

Q. What is the general prohibition symbol?

A.

The general prohibition symbol (ISO 7010 - P001) is a red circle with a red diagonal line running through it from the top left to the bottom right. The circle encloses a graphic that indicates the action or activity that is prohibited. Prohibition symbol signs have universal applicability and are recognized easily by all groups of people. 

Q. Is there any regulatory requirement for prohibition signage?

A.

While OSHA does not have any regulations or specifications regarding prohibition signs in particular, ANSI does identify these in its ANSI Z535 Series which relates to safety signs. There are four types of symbols that ANSI recognizes, namely hazard alerting symbols, mandatory action symbols, prohibition symbols, and informational symbols. The standard prohibition symbol consists of a black pictogram on a white background inside a red circle with a red 45° diagonal line across it from the upper left side to the lower right. The pictogram depicts the action that is not allowed. The symbol is usually accompanied by text that reinforces the prohibition and can also convey the consequences of a violation. 

Q. Is prohibition signage effective in pandemic or disaster situations?

A.

Given the fact that prohibition signage often includes the universal prohibition symbol, it does a great job at drawing attention and communicating the prohibited action with a rather limited scope of ambiguity. A case in point is the current Covid-19 pandemic, for which even the CDC recommends the use of signs that discourage certain actions such as handshakes, crowding, sharing, etc., particularly during community events and gatherings that involve interaction with people not part of one’s household. 

Q. How does prohibition signage differ from hazard warnings?

A.

Prohibition signage is mostly used to communicate behaviors and/or activities that are not allowed in a place of work or private property. A violation in such cases can usually invite a warning, a fine, punishment, or other suitable legal action.


On the other hand, hazard warnings are usually meant for workers and/or employees, and convey information related to workplace hazards which, if ignored, can be injurious or even fatal. These warnings can be a description of the hazard, information on how to avoid the hazard, and the consequences of not avoiding the hazard.

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