A warning is safety-related information that warns users of products about hazards and instructs them on how to avoid them. It serves to protect people and other living beings or the environment from damage.
According to EN 82079-1 , warning notices are not to be confused with safety notices, although both have the same structure and design. Warning notices are printed on the packaging - then they are called product safety labels - or they are included in instructions for use and package inserts . Safety and warning notices must contain standardized safety signs.
"Warning notices must be mentioned in the context in which the danger to which the warning notices refer may arise. You must state possible hazards and the possible consequences if the hazards are not avoided.
Warning notices must be concise. They must not contain complete processes, but must supplement the processes described elsewhere in the instructions for use. Information on how to avoid the hazards must be included. "
In written communication, for example in instructions for use, the signal words 'danger', 'warning' and 'caution' are used to draw the reader's attention to a specific passage in the text. The standard for creating instructions for use, EN 82079-1, refers to ISO 3864-1 for the definition of signal words. Warning notices are required by law. They serve to minimize the manufacturer's product liability and are usually created on the basis of a previous risk analysis . If warning notices are not created correctly, a fine can be imposed if the hazard occurs. A well-known judgment for a faulty warning label is the Milupa judgment .
Warning notices in instructions for use are divided into preceding and integrated warning notices. Preceding warning notices apply to several work steps from the instructions for use. Mostly these are warning notices before action sequences. In ANSI Z535.6 these are called 'Section safety messages'.
Integrated warnings only apply to the work step that follows the warning. This is then a warning in a sequence of actions. In ANSI Z535.6 these are called 'Embedded safety messages'.
The SAFE method is a procedure for the systematic design of warning notices. The severity of the danger and the source of the danger result from the risk analysis mentioned above. The acronym SAFE stands for:
- S chwere of danger (signal word)
- A rt and source of danger
- F ollow disregard of danger
- E ncome (measures to avert the danger)
Signal words (according to EN 82079 and ANSI Z535)
The signal words provide information on the severity and probability of occurrence of the hazards :
- DANGER indicates an imminent danger. If it is not avoided, death or severe injuries will result.
- WARNING indicates a possible impending danger. If it is not avoided, death or serious injuries can result.
- CAUTION indicates a possible impending danger. If it is not avoided, slight or minor injuries can result.
Product / machine / system damage (only ANSI Z535):
- NOTE indicates a potentially harmful situation. If it is not avoided, the system or something in its vicinity can be damaged.
Example of a warning
|warning||Signal word and warning signs to S chwere risk|
|Oil is poisonous||A rt and source of danger|
|Oil can be absorbed through the skin||F ollow the risk|
|Avoid skin contact with oil||e scape|
Standards must be used to design warning notices:
- EN 82079 chapter 5.5.3
- Jens-Uwe Heuer-James, Roland Schmeling, Matthias Schulz: Guide to safety and warning notices. tekom, Stuttgart 2014.
- Jens-Uwe Heuer-James, Roland Schmeling, Matthias Schulz: Guide to safety and warning notices. tekom, Stuttgart 2014. page 49