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ANSI Z535.4 Labels

ANSI Z535.4

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The American National Standard Institute (ANSI) is the organization responsible for publishing the ANSI Z535 series of standards.  The ANSI Z535.4 Standard, titled Product Safety Signs and Labels, defines the content for a safety label.

 “A product safety sign or label should alert persons to a specific hazard, the degree or level of hazard seriousness, the probable consequence of involvement with the hazard, and how the hazard can be avoided.”
ANSI Z535.4-1998

The Signal Word communicates the degree or level of hazard seriousness. The other three components: the specific hazard, the probable consequence of involvement with the hazard, and how the hazard can be avoided are communicated through the word message and the optional use of a pictorial.

Signal Word

The ANSI Z535.4 standard (section 4) contains the following Signal Word definitions:

"DANGER indicates an imminently hazardous situation which, if not avoided, will result in death or serious injury. This signal word is to be limited to the most extreme situations.


WARNING indicates a potentially hazardous situation which, if not avoided, could result in death or serious injury.


CAUTION indicates a potentially hazardous situation which, if not avoided, may result in minor or moderate injury. It may also be used to alert against unsafe practices."

In choosing a signal word there are two questions to ask:

    1.     If the safety label’s message is ignored, how severe will the injury be?
    2.     If the safety label’s message is ignored, how likely is it that an injury will occur?
     

If the answer to the first question “death or serious injury”? is YES: The choice is between DANGER and WARNING.

    If the message is ignored, how likely is it that an injury will occur?
    If it is highly likely (a will situation) the correct signal word is DANGER.
    If it is a possibility (a could situation) the correct signal word is WARNING.

 If the answer to the first question “death or serious injury”? is NO: The correct signal word is CAUTION.

 The signal word’s colored background, in accordance with ANSI Z53.1 (Safety Color Code), in combination with the signal word, communicates the seriousness level of the hazard.

The other three components: the specific hazard, the probable consequence of involvement with the hazard, and how the hazard can be avoided are communicated through the word message and the optional use of a pictorial.

The use of a pictorial is recommended. A pictorial is able to communicate a message across language barriers.  It is also a quick, attention getting form of communication.  There are two distinct formats for the pictorial, a standard graphic, or a graphic formatted to the ISO 3864 standard.  SLS offers pictorials in both formats.  The standard graphic, combined with English text, is intended for use in the United States.  The ISO 3864 formatted graphic, combined with English text, is a format intended for use worldwide.  However, customer requirements and/or specific country requirements may dictate that the word message be translated.