Stonehouse Signs History: Safety First Hand

Look closely at Stonehouse Signs’ tags, and you’ll see a small logo of a hand in a circle with “Safety First” written in the hand. What is this logo, and why is it on some of Stonehouse Signs’ products?

Stonehouse Signs Danger Do Not Operate Lockout Tag with Safety First Logo Stonehouse Signs Safety First Hand


The logo, which we call the Safety First Hand or SFH, was created by J.W. Stonehouse, Stonehouse Signs’ founder. The logo is a replication of his actual hand print. J.W. created the Safety First Hand around 1913, during the same period he was developing the designs for the original Stonehouse Signs’ sign headers.

Stonehouse Signs Original Safety Sign Headers
Stonehouse Signs Original Sign Headers - 1900s


In fact, you can see the Safety First Hand in use in Stonehouse Signs’ very first catalog, published in 1919.

Stonehouse Signs Safety First Hand in Catalog 1, 1919\


Jeff Stone, current co-owner of Stonehouse Signs, further explains how the “Safety First” hand came to be, and how the company uses it today:

“In J.W.’s early years in the safety sign industry, the concept of industrial safety was just beginning to take hold in the U.S. Many of J.W.’s safety sign designs were focused on causing workers to STOP! And think about safety. The image of an upraised hand fit this purpose to a tee. J.W. was granted a U.S. copyright for the logo in 1913 and it remains trademarked by the company to this day.

In my opinion, the Safety First Hand was one of J.W.’s most creative and effective safety-oriented designs. The Safety First Hand was an important part of our Safety Slogan category of signs well into the 1980s. But with the advent of OSHA in 1972, the cleaner look of the OSHA style header was favored over the Safety First Hand, even for safety reminder messages. The Safety First Hand was eventually phased out of many Stonehouse Signs’ stock designs, but remains printed in safety green or black on many of our tags. The image of the SFH we print today is the same (or very close to) the original 1913 image.”

Today, the Safety First Hand on Stonehouse Signs’ tags can be seen as a reminder of how far the safety industry has come from 1913, as well as how important workplace safety remains today. For more historical information on Stonehouse Signs and our founder J.W., visit the Step Into Stonehouse History page.

Since its founding in 1863, Stonehouse Signs has produced high-quality visual communications solutions for various industries and the government. The company specializes in custom products for safety, information and accident prevention, and manufactures a full line of safety signs and facility signssafety tags, vinyl safety decals, and custom magnetic whiteboards designed for extended outdoor life, harsh environments and demanding applications. For more information contact Stonehouse Signs today.

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