Effective Product Safety Labels: Your Guide to Content

By Bethany Stadelmann | 10th Jul 2014

Designing effective product safety labels that can help to prevent injuries and save lives is a complex task. One of the key elements that needs to be considered is your content – the symbols and text that are used to communicate information to protect people from harm and companies from product liability risk.

Where do you start? The ANSI Z535 standards – which represent the U.S. best practices in communicating safety on signs, labels, tags and in manuals – are a good starting point. ANSI Z535.4, specifically, defines the content of your safety labels and makes it very clear what should be conveyed.

When it comes to communicating through an ANSI Z535.4-compliant label, there are three visual elements used:

  1. Signal word (which communicates the degree or level of seriousness of the hazard)
  2. Symbol(s)
  3. Word message (both of these last two elements identify the hazard, the probable consequence of involvement with the hazard, and how the hazard can be avoided)

OSHA-style                           ANSI Z535-style

In the example above, you can see how the up-to-date ANSI Z535.4 "Danger High Voltage" label at right conveys more complete hazard information than its older, OSHA-style counterpart at left.

Interested in learning more about content and safety communications? Read the "On Your Mark" article featured in the latest issue of In Compliance Magazine, which provides an in-depth discussion from Clarion CEO, Geoffrey Peckham, on content and effective product safety labels.

"On Your Mark" is a regular column that explores labeling and graphical symbols, and how they're used to convey safety messages. Stay tuned here on the Clarion Safety Systems blog for the next article in this series – and for more insight on best practice safety signs, labels, and markings.