Hazard Warning Symbols and Their Meanings

There are many different signs and symbols that are used to identify containers and areas that are a hazard to your health. From construction sites to household cleaners, these signs contain the symbols that allow you to readily recognize them and to avoid the hazards that they pose if not handled properly. The use of these signs is regulated by organizations that enforce the proper handling and protection, thus the symbols are uniform with some difference in backgrounds or colors to specify the particular hazard.

Perhaps the most common hazard sign is the skull and crossbones. Historically this sign has been a symbol for the indication of poison. Over the years, however, the symbol has also come to stand for a generic meaning of lethal hazards. The skull and crossbones can often still be found on many containers as an indication that the contents can be fatal if ingested, inhaled or improperly mixed with other hazardous substances.

Resembling the blades of a black fan on a yellow background is the symbol that is placed on signs where there is danger of radiation. Although radiation is successfully used to treat cancer patients, it is a hazard to people and protective clothing must be worn in areas where radiation is used to avoid injury to healthy parts of the body. This symbol can be found in plain black and white and well and carries the same meaning and warning indications.

Biohazard risks are identified by a symbol that is three interwoven arcs with a bell shape in the middle. This sign can be black with a yellow background or black and white and is representative of those substances and areas that are biochemical hazards that can be transmitted through the air or by contact with the skin.

High voltage is often present when storms created downed power lines. Power centers are the source of a great deal of electricity and should be respected as such. Construction sites can also have high voltage areas when there is a need for electricity to power the site. This symbol puts one in mind of a lightning bolt or a staggered exclamation point.

Warning signs can be posted for many different hazards since they tend to have a generic meaning. The hazard can be anything from a falling debris alert to slippery pavement and beyond. A simple exclamation point inside a triangle is the symbol that alerts all who see it to the possibility of a hazard or danger.

Chemical hazards are also identified by a hazard symbol placed on the container or signage in the vicinity. Although the standards differ depending on the location, there is uniformity within the various countries on how such listing are made. In the U.S., a diamond shape with four partitions. The degree of the hazard is defined in the categories which are specific to flammability, health risks, reactivity and hazard details.

There are many other hazard sign symbols that are used and it is important to understand what these symbols me. As a rule, however, if you are unsure of what a symbol means, you should move away from the area as soon as possible.