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7 Effective Tips to Help You Design a Successful Safety Warning Label

custom safety warning labels

As of November 2020, 2.8 of every 100 full-time workers were injured at their workplace. With that being said, it’s common knowledge that hazards exist within almost every industry and business environment.

In order to protect your business and any parties involved, use a safety warning label, such as a machine warning label or a warning decal, wherever caution should be exercised.

In this blog, learn what a safety warning label is and its major benefits to the workplace. Then, discover 7 helpful tips that will allow you to create effective warning labels for your business.

First, let’s begin with the basics.

What is a Safety Warning Label?

You probably already know that companies have a duty to warn consumers and employees about the possibility of injury while using a specific product or machine. That’s where safety warning labels come into play.

safety warning label


Safety warning labels are the labels placed on many products that alert consumers about the dangers of using the specific product beyond its intended use. Warning labels can be placed on the product itself, as a nameplate, or be provided with the product in packaging materials.

Due to product liability law, there are many things that must be stated to absolve a company of any wrongdoing if a product was not used as intended, or if the consumer did not heed the information on the warning label. Therefore, it is up to the manufacturer to decide which type of label is best for their product and for the consumers who will be using them.

3 Common Types of Safety Warning Labels

For starters, there are 3 main types of safety warning labels. These are specific to their uses and have different components and requirements.

Keep reading to learn more about the types of warning labels you may encounter.

1. Facility and Building Warning Labels

This is the most common type of safety warning label. This type of safety label warns people of common hazards that might exist in and around your property.

2. Emergency and Fire Exit Labels

Next, fire safety labels are an important part of any business’s fire prevention equipment. Warning labels should always be designed in such a way that they are very noticeable, with large and brightly colored types.

These should feature not only type but also directional devices so that people understand where the exits are that the signs make them aware of.

3. Machine Warning Labels

Finally, it is important that any machinery with even the slightest chance of harming someone be labeled as a potential hazard. This includes any equipment that is heavy, mechanical, electrical or has the potential to give off heat.

These types of labels should be placed so that they are easily seen by anyone who is either using the equipment or even just walking past it.

So what are the benefits and purposes of these labels?

Major Benefits of Safety Warning Labels

From protecting your customers and employees to saving money, safety warning labels are used for several purposes and offer many benefits. For instance, some benefits include:

  • Reduce the chances of accidents and injury – Whether a person is working in a given area or is simply a visitor, they should be aware that the potential for harm is present. The chances of avoiding payouts of workman’s compensation and damages from lawsuits are substantially lessened with the use of labels.
  • Compliance – Warning labels and safety decals are required by OSHA. As a result, you should always label appropriate hazards in order to stay in compliance with local, state, and national requirements.
  • Locating safety equipment – What good is having a fire extinguisher and other safety equipment if you can’t readily find it? A safety label can make everyone aware of the location of a piece of equipment that might otherwise be overlooked in the event of an emergency.
  • Training and Orientation Benefits – Safety labels are an excellent way to make new employees and others aware of where safety equipment is located and how it is used to its greatest advantage. This is especially important for someone who might not be familiar with the dangers of your business areas.

In order to achieve the best results from your labels, you need to understand how to properly use the elements in a label.

Helpful Visual Elements That Benefit Safety of Use

Obviously, the better the signage is, the better the chances are that they will be seen and danger averted. There are 3 main visual elements you can use on your labels in order to help you deliver your message.

These visual elements include:

  • Signal word – this is the one or two-word headline that captures attention
  • Symbols – these are the pictograms you use to visually show your warning
  • Word message – here is where you better explain the hazardous situation

In order to get the most out of your label, you need to know how to properly use these elements and create an effective design.

custom safety warning labels

7 Tips for Creating Effective Safety Warning Labels

Your warning label isn’t helpful if your user cannot understand what it is trying to say. By following these 7 tips, you can create an effective safety warning label that protects your customers, employees, and your business.

1. Write Clear and Concise

In order to be sure that your warning is fully understood, it is recommended to write your warning clearly and concisely.

It is best to avoid any ambiguous or complicated wording and write in an active voice. You want to keep your message short and to the point so there aren’t any misunderstandings.

Remember to make sure everyone who may use the product or machine has access to the information on the label. This can be done by offering the label in other languages such as Spanish and French.

2. Select Signal Words

Your signal word is your headline that captures attention. There are several types of signal words you can use varying in severity. These include:

  • Danger – The highest level of severity only meant for extreme situations that lead to death and serious injuries
  • Warning – Warnings are for hazards that can end in death or injury
  • Caution – Indicates that the situation can cause minor injuries
  • Notice – This is for non-dangerous instructions and warnings
  • Safety Instructions – Indicates that there are specific safety instructions

Once you choose your headline, you should pick a correlating symbol.

3. Use Pictograms & Symbols

You’ve probably heard the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well the same goes for pictograms and symbols on safety warning labels!

Pictograms are one of the best ways to ensure everyone is aware of any hazards. Not only can they give a message at a glance but they are also universal and surpass language barriers.

When adding symbols, you want to make sure they are consistent and their meaning is clear. If there is any possibility of the image being misunderstood, you should follow it with a reinforcing message. This leads us to our next tip.

4. Include a Helpful Message

When an image isn’t enough information, include a message that explains what the warning is for and how you can work to avoid the hazard.

You can also include a message that explains any possible consequences of not listening to the warning. This helps motivate viewers to listen and understand the severity of their actions.

5. Pick a Durable Material

Next, your warning label is important to the safety of your customers and employees so you want to make sure it is durable. With that being said, you definitely don’t want your message to fade or get scratched.

Therefore, you should always choose a tough material that can withstand outside elements and chemicals.

While creating your safety warning label, it is important to understand and comply with standards that are set.

6. Choose the Best ISO Label Format

When it comes down to designing your safety warning label, you should also be aware of ISO (International Organization for Standardisation) label formats. For instance, common symbol-only styles include:

custom safety warning labels

Yellow – Triangular warning signs to identify any hazards that can lead to injury
Blue – This circular mandatory action sign explains actions to take to avoid any hazards and stay safe. Typically contains white symbols in the blue circle.
Red – This label has a red circle with a slash across it. It is a prohibition label that shows you what actions are prohibited to avoid any danger.

Staying consistent with these styles can help improve users’ understanding and make it easy for those to notice warnings at a glance. Furthermore, compliance with these standards not only protects you but builds credibility with your customers.

Speaking of compliance…

7. Comply with Safety Warning Standards

To avoid liabilities and getting sued, you have to not only comply with state and federal regulations but also standards set by the following organizations. Here’s what you need to know.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI) – ANSI gives guidelines for creating safety signs for products inside the U.S. and Canada. Most warning labels use ANSI warning header for equipment warning labels, high voltage warnings on electrical utilities, and personal protective equipment. Using the pictograms you can easily grab attention and include clear consequences and avoidance statements.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – OSHA danger headings are used on many danger labels for machinery warnings and Arc flash warnings. This type of label is more traditional and therefore has more familiarity amongst workers.
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) – ISO provides guidelines for safety labels that are typically used internationally, outside of the U.S. and Canada. They have symbol-only signs with three different styles for different purposes.

With these top 7 tips in your tool belt, it’s time to craft a custom safety warning label for your business.

Design the Perfect Safety Warning Label With Hallmark Nameplates

Whenever employees, guests, and others are on your property, you should make every effort to make sure that they are safe and know how to protect themselves when there is an emergency. Safety labels that are correctly made and appropriately placed are excellent for this purpose.

At Hallmark Nameplate, we have over 60 years of experience creating effective safety warning labels and know exactly what your project needs. We will work to not only meet your expectations but exceed them.

Ready to get started on creating your labels? Request a free quote today!

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