Safety Label Messaging Basics
Safety label design follows three principles:
- Identify the hazard
- Identify the likely degree of injury that could occur
- Instruct the reader about ways to avoid injury
Designing warnings seems a simple task. However, users may not be English speaking or literate. Depending on the jurisdictions where your product will be marketed, like the EU, text may not be desirable, so pictographic labels may be the most appropriate choice.
The content for your product safety label becomes complex when there are several elements involved in explaining what the hazard is and how to avoid it. But, with the latest update to ISO 3864–2 came a significant modification to the standard that provides a solution to consider in these situations: the new “wordless” format that conveys risk severity.
The wordless label format uses what ISO calls a “hazard severity panel” but no signal word. In place of words, the level of risk is communicated through colour-coding of the hazard severity panel. ISO-formatted symbols as well as what ISO calls “supplementary safety symbols” – symbols without an ISO-colored surround shape – can be used.
Example: Grill Industry Safety Label
As an example, let’s look at a label design created here at Clarion as part of Clarion’s work with ISO/TC 145.
When the barbeque grill industry needed a safety symbol that would warn people not to use grills in enclosed spaces, Clarion volunteered its design department’s skills to develop a new label design. The new label uses the ISO 3864–2:2016 wordless format.
The new safety label design includes a hazard severity level panel at the top. Below the severity label panel are five symbols: a safety symbol that defines the nature of the hazard, and four “supplementary” safety symbols. The supplementary symbols give instructions about “misuses” and “proper use” to help keep people safe. Much like the graphical instructions used in aircraft emergency instructions, the barbeque grill product safety label uses multiple graphics in a progressively illustrated design to communicate a complex message.
There are multiple format options allowed by the ANSI and ISO standards, and it’s important to understand your choices – like this wordless option – so you can make the best decisions for your products or market. To learn more about how the wordless format can help solve complex messaging challenges, you can read Clarion’s recent article on this blog and the feature article in the October 2017 issue of InCompliance Magazine.
Unsure where to start? Clarion is available to help. For more information on effective product safety labeling and resources that you can put to use today, visit www.clarionsafety.com. Clarion also offers complimentary safety label assessments, where we use our experience with the latest standards and best practices to assess your labels and ensure that they’re up-to-date in meeting today’s requirements.