Safety Labels vs. Signs: What’s the Difference?

Whenever we are traveling to places that most people visit every day, we can see different signs or labels attached to walls to give the public prior notice on which way or what they should do in times of disaster will occur. The accurate interpretation of safety signs is crucial to prevent injuries and save lives.

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has set industry standards that clearly define what a safety sign is, how it should be used, and where it should be placed. It is essential that facilities will be certain with choosing safety labels and signs since this is the standard procedure when informing people where they can evacuate and to keep calm during times of distress. But the question is, what is the difference between safety labels and signs?

OSHA does not specify whether a sign or label should be used to communicate vital safety information, just as long as the message is delivered in a visible, long-lasting, and legible way. In this article, we will define the differences between a safety label and safety signs to give you further understanding about their use.

Safety Labels vs. Signs: What’s the Difference?

  • Safety Label

A safety label is a generalized but straightforward safety system used to convey safety messages at a glance, or it is just a symbol. They are typically made of an adhesive vinyl material to instantly peel and apply directly to a surface.Safety symbols can portray required actions, consequences, explicit direction, or the effects of interaction with certain chemicals, machines, and other hazards. Labels may include more than one pictorial to show a sequence of events for one risk. Safety labels are used to inform the public on how and what should they do, and keep the information easily understood rather than confuse the public during times of distress.

  • Safety Signs

Safety signs indicate specific hazards that initiate further caution through things that may lead to accidental injury to workers or the public and property damage. They are often made of a hard-backed material for durable, long-lasting messages that can be hung or mounted onto many surfaces. There are different kinds of safety designs which have different focuses depending on the hazards that it describes for. To give you more insight into how safety signs work, here are some types that can be seen across different establishments:

  1. Danger Signs – This type of safety sign indicates an immediate hazard which will eventually result in death or severe injury. Danger signs should be limited to the most extreme situations and signify that special precautions are necessary.
  2. Biological Hazard Signs – According to OSHA, “The biological hazard warning shall be used to signify the actual or potential presence of a biohazard and to identify equipment, containers, rooms, materials, experimental animals, or combinations thereof, which contain, or are contaminated with, viable hazardous agent, presenting a risk or potential risk to the well-being of man.”
  3. Fire Safety Signs – This particular safety sign ushers the public to where they should go when the fire started to occur on the establishment, or when the fire alarms begin to blare out and smoke seen within the area.

What are the differences between a safety label and a safety sign?

One might say that both are alike since both of them warns the public for possible hazardous materials within the area, but as we consider specific factors on how they work, we will see the difference on how businesses should use these kinds of safety precautions.

  1. Purpose – As we can read on the definitions of what is a safety label mean, we can infer that it mainly used as a precaution to convey hazardous elements within the area. On the other hand, safety signs are specific instructions that convey direct caution to the public and prescribes something that they should do as a remedy during emergencies.
  2. Safety Content – While it is debatable that some safety signs and labels are the same, but at some point, they are not alike. Let’s take for example the content that it proclaims and explains to the public. Since most of the safety labels are commonly images or symbols that are used to portray a certain caution, it only describes what kind of hazard is present, while safety signs explain how the public can save themselves in case the danger occurs unexpectedly.
  3. Level of Awareness –When it comes to the level of awareness between a safety label and a safety sign, it varies from what kind of establishment is being labeled in with safety. For example, safety signage explaining the hazardous effect of radiation inside the factory; it may also require in its content the proper attire when entering this kind of premises, and it that way, people will be aware on what to do.

Safety is one of the most critical factors in any establishment or any place where people are most present that possible accidents may occur anytime. Different businesses and public services should invest with appropriate safety labels and safety signages since it is vital to minimizing the effect of disasters and the hazardous occurrence in which area.

To learn more about the different safety systems, equipment, and apparatus that should be present in your facility, kindly check out our website at

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