Hazard WarningsHierarchy of ControlsInternational

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