Safety Label Format Solutions for Solving Complex Messaging Challenges

Safety label on a roller conveyor
This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Safety Labels

Safety Label Messaging Basics

Safety label design fol­lows three prin­ciples:

  1. Identi­fy the haz­ard
  2. Identi­fy the likely degree of injury that could occur
  3. 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.

Complex Content

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.

Example of the new “wordless” safety label format option allowed by ISO 3864-2:2016.
Example of the new “word­less” safety label format option allowed by ISO 3864 – 2:2016. (Label design ©Clari­on Safety Sys­tems. All rights reserved.)

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.

Example Grill Industry Wordless Safety Label
Example Grill Industry Word­less Safety Label (Label design ©Clari­on Safety Sys­tems. All rights reserved.)

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.

Learn More

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.

Get Help

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.

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Acknow­ledge­ments: Clari­on Safety Sys­tems, LLC
All Rights Reserved
Series Nav­ig­a­tionISO 3864 – 2″>Recent Changes to the Product Safety Label Stand­ard ISO 3864 – 2

Author: Erin Earley

Erin Earley, head of communications at Clarion Safety Systems, shares her company’s passion for safer products and workplaces. She’s written extensively about best practices for product safety labels and facility safety signs. Clarion is a member of the ANSI Z535 Committee for Safety Signs and Colors, the U.S. TAG to ISO/TC 145, and the U.S. TAG to ISO 45001.