In Compliance Magazine Features Clarion Article On Symbol-Only Safety Label Formats

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In Compliance Magazine, a leading resource for electrical engineering professionals, has featured Clarion Safety Systems’ CEO, Geoffrey Peckham, in its latest issue, where he shares insight on the United States Food and Drug Administration’s approval of symbol-only labels – and how the path is being paved for worldwide approaches to “wordless” safety labeling.

Examples of symbol-only "no text" safety label formats

Examples of symbol-only "no text" safety label formats

The FDA’s approval of the use of symbol-only safety label formats is a significant development in the standards landscape that merits the attention of those responsible for product safety labels. It signals a shift in the future of safety communication.

Clarion Safety Systems, a leading designer and manufacturer of safety signs and safety labels, has been featured in the latest issue of In Compliance Magazine, a leading source for news, information and resources for electrical engineering professionals.

In Compliance delivers the latest news, standards updates, technical explanations and guidance, as a resource for engineers to turn to for education, information and inspiration.

Geoffrey Peckham, CEO of Clarion Safety Systems, authored the “On Your Mark” column, published in the magazine’s October 2016 edition. The article shares insight on the United States Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) approval of symbol-only labels – and how the path is being paved for worldwide approaches to “wordless” safety labeling.

On Your Mark” is a regular column that discusses the latest best practices in labeling and how graphical symbols are used to more effectively convey safety messages. The article is the final piece in a four-part series focusing on current trends in safety symbol design.

“The FDA’s approval of the use of symbol-only safety label formats is a significant development in the standards landscape that merits the attention of those responsible for product safety labels. This groundbreaking regulation signals a shift in the future of safety communication, both in the U.S. and worldwide, for all types of products, not just medical devices,” says Peckham.

The FDA’s final rule on the “Use of Symbols in Labeling” went into effect in September 2016 and “explicitly permits the use of symbols in medical device labeling without adjacent explanatory text if certain requirements are met.” The rule stipulates that a stand-alone symbol can be used if the symbol was established as part of a standard written by a national or international standards development organization such as the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) or International Organization for Standardization (ISO) (both standards-writing organizations recognized by the FDA). The FDA rule also allows device manufacturers to use symbols that are not included in recognized standards if the manufacturer can determine the symbol is likely to be read and understood by their device’s audience.

The medical device industry had requested the FDA to make a ruling to allow the use of stand-alone symbols on domestic device labeling so labeling could be consistent for devices sold both in the U.S. and abroad. Symbol-only formats have gained increasing acceptance around the world. With the new rule, the FDA is harmonizing label requirements for the U.S. device market with accepted symbol-only formats currently allowed by international standards, such as European Norms, International Electrotechnical Commission standards, and ISO standards.

“When it comes to symbol comprehension and legibility, I believe the FDA got it right when it stated that device manufacturers should use symbols that have been standardized by official standards bodies and that they did not require manufacturers to prove that the symbols they use are understandable,” says Peckham.

To assist in the comprehension of new and standardized symbols, the FDA requires there to be an accompanying symbols glossary, in paper or electronic form. Pointing viewers to a glossary of symbol meanings allows for comprehension even when symbols cannot be intuitively understood.

“One of the core tenants of international graphical symbol standardization is that through widespread use, symbols will become more widely understood. Thus, consistent use of “established,” standardized symbols for established meanings will, in time, help symbols to become intuitively understood. This is especially important as the world is trending towards graphic-based safety label design where symbols are used to convey all aspects of a label's content.”

Peckham’s credentials include currently serving as chair of both the ANSI Z535 Committee for Safety Signs and Colors and the U.S. Technical Advisory Group to ISO Technical Committee 145 – Graphical Symbols. He has also been selected as a member of the U.S. TAG to ISO/PC 283, an ISO committee writing a new standard, ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems, which will, when finished, define global best practices for workplace safety. In addition, he is an active member of many industry-specific standards committees related to safety signs and labels for buildings, ships, machinery and products.

The full article is available through InCompliance Magazine’s website. To learn more about the latest developments in product safety labeling, visit Clarion’s online safety label Learning Center or watch its short, educational videos on “Effective Safety Symbols, Signs and Labels” and “ISO Symbols for Safety Signs and Labels.”

ABOUT CLARION SAFETY SYSTEMS
Clarion Safety Systems, LLC, is the leading designer and manufacturer of visual safety solutions that help customers in more than 180 industries worldwide to make their products and premises safer. Clarion offers a full range of standard and custom products including machinery safety labels, environmental and facility safety signs, pipe and valve identification markings, lockout/tagout products, and safety-grade photoluminescent egress path-marking escape systems. Founded in 1990, the company continues to play a leading role in the development and writing of international and national standards for safety signs, labels, and markings. Clarion is headquartered at 190 Old Milford Road in Milford, PA, 18337, and online at http://www.clarionsafety.com.

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Erin Earley
Clarion Safety Systems
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