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SYmbol Only Labels

Symbol Only Labels

A dilemma facing many manufacturers is how to communicate safety and machine functions without using words. The characteristics of your products, your markets and your users may make symbol-only, wordless labels the right choice. The question then becomes: what are the right symbols and how should they be used to convey your intended safety message?


Clarion has been the recognized leader in the field of safety symbol development for the past twenty years in the U.S. We understood back in the early 1990s that product manufacturers needed a means to meet international safety label requirements that favored the use of graphical symbols to replace or reinforce word message-based on-product warnings. At that time, and continuing today, international safety requirements prefer the use of symbol-based communication. Such a preference, as found in the European Union’s Machinery Directive, was developed to overcome communication barriers inherent in written language when a product is sold into one or more markets characterized by populations having multiple languages. The answer: symbols.

When it comes to conveying complex safety messages (a message that has more than one component to it), the use of more than one symbol-only safety label is encouraged. A typical configuration would be placing an ISO-formatted “warning” label that describes the hazard (yellow triangle with black band and black graphic) next to an ISO-formatted “mandatory action” product safety label (blue circle with white graphic) and/or an ISO-formatted “prohibition” product safety label (red circular band with slash over a black graphic). The mandatory action label and prohibition label are used to describe how to avoid the hazard, giving the viewer more complete information than if only a hazard description “warning” label is used. Multiple symbol-only messages can be installed as separate, individual labels or, using Clarion’s easy customization service, they can be combined onto a single rectangular label – making inventory and installation a significantly simpler task.