Safety Label Format Solutions for Solving Complex Messaging Challenges

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
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Recent Changes to the Product Safety Label Standard ISO 3864–2

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Safe­ty Labels

The Importance of Best Practice Product Safety Label Standards

Prod­uct safe­ty labels serve an impor­tant role. They pro­tect both users and man­u­fac­tur­ers. Man­u­fac­tur­ers are con­cerned with build­ing prod­ucts and pro­tect­ing them­selves from lia­bil­i­ty law­suits. Users are con­cerned abut buy­ing safe prod­ucts. Man­u­fac­tur­ers are also con­cerned with meet­ing the legal require­ments for prod­uct labelling in the mar­kets they serve.

As a prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­er, your legal oblig­a­tion is to meet or exceed the cur­rent ver­sions of stan­dards relat­ed to your prod­ucts. Reg­u­la­to­ry com­pli­ance often hinges on meet­ing cur­rent stan­dards. Many juris­dic­tions use com­pli­ance with the lat­est stan­dards to gauge manufacturer’s efforts to meet best prac­tices and legal require­ments.

While keep­ing your prod­uct safe­ty label designs up-to-date is not always a sim­ple task, using the prin­ci­pal prod­uct safe­ty label stan­dards for the design and lay­out of your labels is key to ful­fill­ing this require­ment. If you are unsure about your prod­uct safe­ty label designs, Clarion’s Safe­ty Label Assess­ment Ser­vice can help get you on track.

Principal Product Safety Label Standards

In the U.S., the stan­dard to look to is the ANSI Z535.4 Stan­dard for Prod­uct Safe­ty Signs and Labels [1]. Inter­na­tion­al­ly, the pri­ma­ry stan­dard for ref­er­ence is ISO 3864–2 Graph­i­cal sym­bols – Safe­ty colours and safe­ty signs – Part 2: Design prin­ci­ples for prod­uct safe­ty labels [2]. As Cana­da does not have a prod­uct safe­ty label stan­dard, fol­low­ing the design prin­ci­ples in ANSI Z535.4 or ISO 3864–2 will give you a start­ing point for both con­tent and for­mat choic­es for your prod­uct safe­ty labels (bear­ing in mind any lan­guage require­ments for your juris­dic­tion.)

Recent ANSI and ISO Standards Changes

The ANSI Z535.4 and ISO 3864–2 prod­uct safe­ty label stan­dards are revised accord­ing to ANSI and ISO pro­ce­dures, typ­i­cal­ly every five years. ANSI Z535.4 is in the process of being bal­lot­ed for reaf­fir­ma­tion with­out changes. If that occurs, the new ver­sion will be iden­ti­cal to the 2011 stan­dard.

ISO 3864–2 was updat­ed in Decem­ber 2016. The revi­sion includ­ed sig­nif­i­cant mod­i­fi­ca­tions to its con­tent, includ­ing sev­er­al changes to the label for­mats it allows. It is impor­tant to be aware of these changes and to under­stand why one label for­mat may be more appro­pri­ate for your prod­uct than anoth­er.

Focusing in on ISO 3864–2:2016

In the lat­est ver­sion of the ISO 3864–2 prod­uct safe­ty label stan­dard, there are two major changes to ISO label for­mats:

  • The prod­uct safe­ty label for­mat that used a sin­gle safe­ty sym­bol with­out an ISO-col­ored sur­round shape was removed from the stan­dard. From the ISO 3864–2 standard’s per­spec­tive, and as defined in the standard’s first edi­tion, prod­uct safe­ty labels must use at least one ISO-for­mat­ted safe­ty sym­bol (mean­ing, the sym­bol is placed in an ISO 3864-col­ored sur­round shape) in addi­tion to the “gen­er­al warn­ing sign” that serves as the safe­ty alert sym­bol on the label’s sever­i­ty lev­el pan­el. Non-ISO-for­mat­ted sym­bols can still be used on prod­uct safe­ty labels, but only in addi­tion to one or more ISO-for­mat­ted sym­bols. ISO 3864–2 defines these safe­ty sym­bols as “sup­ple­men­tary.”
Example of a complete wordless ISO product safety label.
Safe­ty label for­mat­ting options that are no longer accept­ed (top label) and accept­ed (mid­dle and bot­tom label) by ISO 3864–2:2016. (Label designs ©Clar­i­on Safe­ty Sys­tems. All rights reserved.)
  • A new “word­less” for­mat that con­veys risk sever­i­ty was added to the stan­dard. This new prod­uct safe­ty label for­mat uses what ISO 3864–2 defines as a “haz­ard sever­i­ty pan­el” with­out a sig­nal word. The pan­el appear­ing at the top of the label com­mu­ni­cates the lev­el of risk through col­or-cod­ing and the use of the ISO-for­mat­ted gen­er­al warn­ing sym­bol. This for­mat option, already in use by a wide vari­ety of prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ers, elim­i­nates words – mak­ing trans­la­tions unnec­es­sary.
Example of a wordless ISO product safety label.
Exam­ple of the new “word­less” safe­ty label for­mat option allowed by ISO 3864–2:2016. (Label designs ©Clar­i­on Safe­ty Sys­tems. All rights reserved.)

Next Steps for Your Labels

It is impor­tant to be aware that the changes made in ISO 3864–2 are sig­nif­i­cant. The changes open up new for­mat pos­si­bil­i­ties that can help com­pa­nies to bet­ter warn their users about haz­ards asso­ci­at­ed with their prod­ucts. These changes make it a good time to reeval­u­ate your labels.

Check to see if

  1. they con­tin­ue to meet your market’s require­ments, and
  2. whether the “word­less” for­mat makes sense for your labelling.

The ISO prod­uct safe­ty label stan­dard gives you new options for con­vey­ing your safe­ty mes­sage. The standard’s revi­sion is an oppor­tu­ni­ty to ful­ly refresh your labels, review­ing both their con­tent and for­mat in line with your product’s risk assess­ment and mar­ket require­ments.

For more infor­ma­tion on effec­tive prod­uct safe­ty labelling 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.

References

[1]            Stan­dard for Prod­uct Safe­ty Signs and Labels. ANSI Stan­dard Z535.4. 2011 (R2017).

[2]            Graph­i­cal sym­bols – Safe­ty colours and safe­ty signs – Part 2: Design prin­ci­ples for prod­uct safe­ty labels. ISO Stan­dard 3864–2. 2016.

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Acknowl­edge­ments: Derek Evers­dyke, Clar­i­on Safe­ty Syste more…
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Machinery Safety Labels: 3 Top Tools for Effective Warnings

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Safe­ty Labels

Machinery Safety Labels

The third lev­el of the Hier­ar­chy of Con­trols is Infor­ma­tion for Use. Safe­ty Labels are a key part of the Infor­ma­tion for Use pro­vid­ed by machine builders to users and are often the only infor­ma­tion that many users get to see. This makes the design and place­ment of the safe­ty labels crit­i­cal to their effec­tive­ness. There is as much risk in the under-use of safe­ty labels as there is in the over-use of safe­ty labels. Often, machine builders and users sim­ply select gener­ic labels that are eas­i­ly avail­able from cat­a­logues, miss­ing the oppor­tu­ni­ty to design labels that are spe­cif­ic to the machine and the haz­ards present.

Product Safety and Liability Limitation

If your com­pa­ny man­u­fac­tures machin­ery that has poten­tial haz­ards asso­ci­at­ed with its trans­porta­tion, instal­la­tion, use, main­te­nance, decom­mis­sion­ing and/or dis­pos­al, you like­ly have a very strong need to cre­ate effec­tive prod­uct safe­ty labels. This task must be done right: prod­uct safe­ty labels play an inte­gral role in your company’s prod­uct safe­ty and lia­bil­i­ty pre­ven­tion efforts. And that means that people’s lives and your company’s finan­cial well-being are on the line. On that note, it’s impor­tant to keep in mind these two fac­tors when it comes to effec­tive safe­ty labels:

  1. If prop­er­ly designed, they can dra­mat­i­cal­ly reduce acci­dents. This not only improves a product’s over­all safe­ty record but adds to a company’s bot­tom line by reduc­ing prod­uct lia­bil­i­ty lit­i­ga­tion and insur­ance costs.
  2. If poor­ly designed, need­ed safe­ty com­mu­ni­ca­tion does not take place and this can lead to acci­dents that cause injuries. With these acci­dents, com­pa­nies face high costs set­tling or fight­ing law­suits because their prod­ucts lacked “ade­quate warn­ings.”

With the rise in prod­uct lia­bil­i­ty lit­i­ga­tion based on “fail­ure to warn” over the past sev­er­al decades, prod­uct safe­ty labels have become a lead­ing focal point in law­suits faced by cap­i­tal equip­ment man­u­fac­tur­ers. Let’s look at three best?practice tools for prod­uct safe­ty label design. These tools can pro­vide insight to help you cre­ate or improve your safe­ty label strat­e­gy in order to bet­ter pro­tect your prod­uct users from harm and your com­pa­ny from lit­i­ga­tion-relat­ed loss­es.

TOOL #1: SAFETY LABEL STANDARDS

As a man­u­fac­tur­er, you know that your legal oblig­a­tion is to meet or exceed the most recent ver­sions of stan­dards relat­ed to your prod­uct at the time it’s sold into the mar­ket­place. Warn­ing label stan­dards are the first place to turn to when it comes to defin­ing your prod­uct safe­ty labels. Up until 1991, there was no over­ar­ch­ing, mul­ti-indus­try stan­dard in the U.S., or in the rest of the world, which gave defin­i­tive guid­ance on the prop­er for­mat­ting and con­tent for on-prod­uct warn­ings. In the U.S., that changed nation­al­ly with the pub­li­ca­tion of the ANSI Z535.4 Stan­dard for Prod­uct Safe­ty Signs and Labels in 1991, and inter­na­tion­al­ly with the pub­li­ca­tion of ISO 3864–2 Design Prin­ci­ples for Prod­uct Safe­ty Labels in 2004.

As of 2017, Cana­da does not have a warn­ing label stan­dard. Since Cana­da imports machin­ery from the U.S. and the EU, it is quite com­mon to see either ANSI Z535 style labels or ISO 3864 style labels on prod­ucts. Under Cana­di­an law, nei­ther is more cor­rect. How­ev­er, Québec has spe­cif­ic require­ments for French lan­guage trans­la­tions, and many CSA stan­dards pre­scribe spe­cif­ic haz­ard warn­ing labels that do not con­form to either ANSI or ISO styles.

Fol­low­ing the design prin­ci­ples in ANSI Z535.4 or ISO 3864–2 will give you a start­ing place for both the con­tent and for­mat choic­es you have to make for your prod­ucts’ safe­ty labels, bear­ing in mind the lan­guage require­ments of your juris­dic­tion. Note that both of these stan­dards are revised reg­u­lar­ly, every five years or so, and it’s impor­tant to be aware of the nuances that would make one for­mat more appro­pri­ate for your prod­uct than anoth­er.

Safety label standard ANSI Z535.4 Product Safety Signs and Labels
The ANSI Z535.4 prod­uct safe­ty label stan­dard
Safety label standard ISO 3864-2 Graphical symbols - Safety colours and safety signs - Part 2: Design principles for product safety labels.
The ISO 3864–2 prod­uct safe­ty label stan­dard

TOOL #2: RISK ASSESSMENT

From an engi­neer­ing per­spec­tive, your job is to iden­ti­fy poten­tial haz­ards and then deter­mine if they need to be designed out, guard­ed, or warned about. From a legal per­spec­tive, your job is to define what haz­ards are “rea­son­ably fore­see­able” and “rea­son­able” ways to mit­i­gate risks asso­ci­at­ed with haz­ards that can­not be designed out. This is where risk assess­ment comes into play.

In today’s world, a prod­uct is expect­ed to be designed with safe­ty in mind. The risk assess­ment process helps you to accom­plish this task. At its most basic lev­el, risk assess­ment involves con­sid­er­ing the prob­a­bil­i­ty and sever­i­ty of out­comes that can result from poten­tial­ly haz­ardous sit­u­a­tions. After iden­ti­fy­ing the poten­tial haz­ards relat­ed to your prod­uct at every point in its life­cy­cle, you then con­sid­er var­i­ous strate­gies to either elim­i­nate or reduce the risk of peo­ple inter­act­ing with these haz­ards.

The best prac­tice risk assess­ment stan­dards that exist today (i.e. ANSI Z10, ANSI B11, CSA Z432, CSA Z1002, ISO 12100, ISO 31000, ISO 31010) give you a process to use to quan­ti­fy and reduce risks. Using these stan­dards as the basis for a for­mal­ized risk assess­ment process will not only help you to devel­op bet­ter safe­ty labels and a safer prod­uct, but it will also pro­vide you with doc­u­men­ta­tion that will help you to show the world that you are a safe­ty-con­scious com­pa­ny who uses the lat­est stan­dards-based tech­nol­o­gy to reduce risks. This will be high­ly impor­tant should you be involved in prod­uct lia­bil­i­ty lit­i­ga­tion down the road.

From an engi­neer­ing per­spec­tive, your job is to iden­ti­fy poten­tial haz­ards and then deter­mine if they need to be designed out, guard­ed, or warned about. From a legal per­spec­tive, your job is to define what haz­ards are “rea­son­ably fore­see­able” and “rea­son­able” ways to mit­i­gate risks asso­ci­at­ed with haz­ards that can­not be designed out. This is where risk assess­ment comes into play.

MIL-STD 882 risk assessment form
A typ­i­cal risk assess­ment scor­ing matrix (based on MIL STD 882 as defined in ANSI B11/ISO 12100 Safe­ty of Machin­ery – Risk Assess­ment Annex D)

TOOL #3: PICTOGRAPHIC  SAFETY LABELS FOR GLOBAL MARKETS

A large num­ber of machin­ery man­u­fac­tur­ers sell their prod­ucts around the globe and when this is the case, com­pli­ance with glob­al stan­dards is a require­ment. The ANSI Z535.4 and ISO 3864–2 prod­uct safe­ty label stan­dards, and the EU machin­ery direc­tive place an empha­sis on using well-designed sym­bols on machin­ery safe­ty labels so infor­ma­tion can be con­veyed across lan­guage bar­ri­ers.

The EU Machin­ery Direc­tive 2006/42/EC requires that all infor­ma­tion for use be pro­vid­ed in the offi­cial lan­guages of the coun­try of use. Infor­ma­tion for use includes haz­ard warn­ing signs and labels that bear mes­sages in text. Adding sym­bols also increas­es your labels’ notice­abil­i­ty. The use of sym­bols to con­vey safe­ty is becom­ing com­mon­place world­wide and not tak­ing advan­tage of this new visu­al lan­guage risks mak­ing your product’s safe­ty labels obso­lete and non-com­pli­ant with local, region­al and inter­na­tion­al codes. In ISO 3864–2’s lat­est, 2016 update, a major change in ISO label for­mats was made: a new “word­less” for­mat that con­veys risk sever­i­ty was added to the stan­dard. This new label for­mat uses what ISO calls a “haz­ard sever­i­ty pan­el” but no sig­nal word. It com­mu­ni­cates the lev­el of risk through colour-cod­ing of the haz­ard sever­i­ty pan­el. This for­mat option elim­i­nates words – mak­ing trans­la­tions unnec­es­sary.

It should be not­ed that some­times sym­bols alone can­not con­vey com­plex safe­ty mes­sages. In these cas­es, text is often still used. When ship­ping to non-Eng­lish speak­ing coun­tries, the trend today is to trans­late the text into the lan­guage of the coun­try in which the machine is sold. Dig­i­tal print tech­nol­o­gy makes this solu­tion much more cost effec­tive and effi­cient than in the past.

Safety label by Clarion Safety Systems on a machine
A typ­i­cal Clar­i­on machine safe­ty label that uses an inter­na­tion­al­ly for­mat­ted graph­i­cal sym­bol and a for­mat that meets both ANSI Z535.4 and ISO 3864–2 design prin­ci­ples (Design ©Clar­i­on Safe­ty Sys­tems. All rights reserved.)

Concluding Thoughts

The safe­ty labels that appear on your prod­ucts are one of its most vis­i­ble com­po­nents. If they don’t meet cur­rent stan­dards, if they aren’t designed as the result of a risk assess­ment, and if they don’t incor­po­rate well-designed graph­i­cal sym­bols, your com­pa­ny risks lit­i­ga­tion and non-con­for­mance with mar­ket require­ments. Most impor­tant­ly, you may be putting those who inter­act with your machin­ery at risk of harm. Mak­ing sure your prod­uct safe­ty labels are up-to-date is an impor­tant task for every engi­neer respon­si­ble for a machine’s design.

For more infor­ma­tion on effec­tive prod­uct safe­ty labelling 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.

Ed. note: Addi­tion­al Cana­di­an mate­r­i­al con­tributed by Doug Nix.

Digiprove sealCopy­right secured by Digiprove © 2017
Acknowl­edge­ments: Derek Evers­dyke, Clar­i­on Safe­ty Sys­tems, LLC
Some Rights Reserved