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How to Create Effective Warning and Safety Labels

How to Create Effective Warning and Safety Labels

Warning and safety labels are a normal part of the work environment for many industries because these labels help to keep people safe by offering warnings and information that enable workers to properly use equipment and devices. Labels also are present on consumer products where they serve a similar purpose. In any situation, they provide education and information with the aim to keep people safe.

Warning and safety labels also help to protect manufacturers, employers, and others who could face liability if a person suffers an injury due to a known hazard. However, since warning labels are so prevalent in our society, at work, and at home, they may be losing their effectiveness.

Two Reasons for Labels

The two main reasons why warning and safety labels are so important in a work environment and on consumer products, according to Elk and Elk Co., LTD, is that they help prevent accidents and prompt changes to make things safer.

In a manufacturing setting, for example, the labels or flap tags will provide a person using the machine with essential information about the use of the equipment and the possible hazards. It could alert them to moving parts or provide instructions on how to properly operate the machine.

If a machine that contains a warning label still results in someone suffering an injury, then it will prompt change. The employer may alter rules concerning using the machine, or the manufacturer may implement additional safeguards to prevent such an injury in the future.

What Information to Put on a Label

A flap tag needs to provide enough information as possible while also conveying it clearly. It is essential to explain the risks. Do not just put a warning of an electrical shock risk. Instead, state the warning but also make sure to explain why this risk exists.

OSHA explains that the warning must be clearly visible. So, it should be something a person cannot ignore, and it should be in a reasonable area and not hidden out of sight.

It also needs to ensure the message is comprehensible at a glance. While you want to offer as much information as possible, you also want to be sure you use symbols, shapes, and colors that will get the message across without someone having to read through the label.

You want to keep the label concise. Don’t be too wordy. Make sure the message is direct. If there is a risk of getting caught in the machine, then say that. Do not try to be fancy with your wording or too high-tech. Keep it in straightforward terms.

Maintain Warning and Safety Labels

Once you implement the use of flap tags, you must stay on top of it. You cannot place a warning label one time and forget about it. Wear, use, and time will cause that tag to eventually become difficult to read or may be missing parts of it.

To begin, choose your tags carefully. Make sure they are of a material that is sturdy and durable. You should also ensure that the tag you choose will stand up in the environment in which you will use it.

Do regular checks of your warning labels and replace them when they become damaged because a peeling label is not doing its job and it may be missing information or not attracting the attention that it should. For example, if you have a label shaped like a stop sign that is bright red and the red starts to fade and it’s peeling around the edges so it no longer looks like the familiar shape, then it loses some of its impact.

Furthermore, when you do not maintain your labels, employees may begin to feel that the labels are not important. You have to maintain their importance by keeping them in good condition.

Labels Save Lives

Using warning and safety labels can protect people from things that could harm them. Not every hazard is immediately clear, and using such labels ensures people are aware of them before it is too late.


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by Rebecca Jones // Contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.