Trend Alert: Multi-Symbol Labels

By Clarion Safety Systems | 13th Apr 2016

In the last decade, we’ve seen a shift in product safety label design. Label formats are moving towards utilizing global safety label design principles that use internationally formatted graphical symbols to convey a portion of the label’s message.

This change has helped to give way to a new trend in safety label design: multi-symbol labels. These types of labels show both hazard description AND hazard avoidance visually.

Take a look at the progression of label designs, below, which illustrates a timeline from past (1941) to present.

Safety Label Timeline

  • Label 1 shows how warnings looked before 1991, compliant with a 1940s-era accident prevention facility safety sign standard, ASA Z35.1.
  • Label 2 shows a label formatted to meet the first version of the ANSI Z535.4 Standard for Product Safety Signs and Labels, published in 1991. It has more detailed content and includes a symbol. The ANSI Z535.4 label format was meant to convey the proper severity level of the hazard (through its choice of signal word), and uses a word message and/or one or more symbols to convey the nature of the hazard, the consequence of interaction with the hazard and how to avoid the hazard.
  • Label 3 conveys this same level of content, but uses a “harmonized” format that meets the current versions of the ANSI Z535.4 and ISO 3864-2 product safety label standards.
  • Label 4 has the same word message as Labels 2 and 3. But, instead of using a graphic to convey only the hazard nature and consequence information, it uses two additional graphics to convey the messages, “Do not operate with guards removed,” and “Follow lockout procedure before servicing.”

In the multi-symbol approach shown in Label 4, not only is a more complete safety message communicated visually with the use of multiple symbols, but the added symbols make the label more noticeable and quicker to comprehend.

For more insight on the growing trend of multi-symbol labels, be sure to read our CEO Geoffrey Peckham’s latest article in In Compliance Magazine, part of a series on current trends in safety symbol design. 

In Compliance Multi-symbol Label Article


Would your labels benefit from a multi-symbol approach? Contact us today to learn more about updating or customizing your labels!