Did you know OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, requires specific labeling in the workplace? There's a long list of labels and signs industrial employers are required to display to help protect workers from hazards.
These labels and signs must be legible and easy for workers to see and understand from a safe distance. To comply with OSHA standards and improve hazard identification, sign and label design should always follow the ANSI Z535 design standards.
One of ANSI's label and sign design standards defines how signal words should be used to describe various hazards and safety words. These signal words are the large words found at the top of all safety labels and signs. They indicate dangers, warning, caution, notice, and general safety.
"Danger" is reserved for the most hazardous situations. These are hazards that, if not avoided, WILL result in death or serious injury. Common applications for "Danger" signs are high voltage, heavy equipment hazards, and machinery hazards where accidents will lead to death.
"Warning" should be used to describe a hazard that COULD result in death or serious injury. "Warning" signs are often used on conveyor systems, dangerous exposures, and electrical equipment where accidental shocks have the potential to kill.
"Caution" is used for hazard labeling as well. But only hazards which COULD result in minor or moderate injury. "Caution" signs are reserved for less serious hazards, like trip and fall hazards, non-life threatening electrical shocks, and equipment that may cause minor injury.
"Notice" is not used for hazards. This signal word is used to convey security, sanitation, or housekeeping rules.
"General Safety" signal words are reserved for safety procedures and similar labels and signs. Each should be worded for specific applications such as emergency shutdown procedures or operating instructions.