What's the difference between headings at the top of a safety sign?
The first element to consider when designing a product safety label is to determine the likelihood and severity of a potential injury if a person does not follow the instructions contained on the safety label or sign.
There are four Signal Words or Hazard Classifications used in the design of an ANSI Z535 compliant safety sign or label: “DANGER”, “WARNING”, “CAUTION” or “NOTICE”.
Too often we see the inappropriate use of hazard classifications headings paired with the wrong situation. A prime example is "DANGER: Please wash hands after using the restroom" where the heading is implying a dangerous situation with the possibility of life threatening injuries. Another opposite example of a mismatched heading would be "NOTICE: H²S Poisonous Gas May Be Present" where the heading is typically used for good housekeeping reminders and general information.
Keep in mind that different headings may be used for a similar message, depending on the sign usage and placement. An example would be Danger: High Voltage (where death or serious injury would likely occur) or Warning: High Voltage (where serious but non-life threatening injury may occur).
How to select the proper safety sign heading:
1) First indentify the maximum level of injury that can occur including the probability of occurance.
2) Use the decription below to accurately select the appropriate heading.
DANGER: Indicates an imminently hazardous situation which, if not avoided, will result in death or serious injury. Safety Signs identified by the signal word DANGER should be used sparingly and only for those situations presenting the most serious hazards.
WARNING: Indicates a potentially hazardous situation which, if not avoided, will result in death or serious injury. Hazards identified by the signal word WARNING present a lesser degree of risk of injury or death than those identified by the signal word DANGER.
CAUTION: Indicates a hazardous situation, which if not avoided, could result in minor or moderate injury. CAUTION may also be used without the safety alert symbol as an alternative to “NOTICE”.
NOTICE: is the preferred signal word to address practices not related to personal injury. The safety alert symbol should not be used with this signal word. As an alternative to “NOTICE”, the word “CAUTION” without the safety alert symbol may be used to indicate a message not related to personal injury.
The 2002 revision stated that the signal words for product safety labels were: DANGER, WARNING, CAUTION. Where CAUTION could be used for property-damage-only accidents when used without the triangle and exclamation mark.
If you have any questions or would like clarification on designing your own safety signs and labels please don't hesitate to contact us!