Educate Yourself With These Safety Symbols and Meanings

Safety Symbols and Meanings
Can you identify the safety symbols placed around universities, office buildings, theaters, and other public places? This article will help you understand the meaning of the safety symbols you often come across in public.
WellnessKeen Staff
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2018
Safety symbols are used across the world, and in different sectors. Be it any industry, construction, school (educational facilities), or any workplace, these symbols can be understood in any part of the world. As there are thousands of languages spoken around the world, these symbols help in the communication process easily.

Although the symbols are used and accepted in various health and safety sectors, they are often times governed by law and organized by standard organizations. These symbols come in different colors, backgrounds, and added data that describe the severity of a potential hazard (if proper care is not taken).
Safety and Health Symbols and Meanings
There can be various, unforeseen dangers when it comes to handling chemicals. As a precautionary method or step, each of these chemicals or hazardous materials are recognized by a specific symbol. Some of the safety signs and symbols indicate the things, which can be poisonous, may cause burn marks, may catch fire instantly, or even explode. Therefore, certain symbols are placed to warn us beforehand.
biohazard
For example - On sharps container

Also known as biological hazard, this symbol is placed when there is danger or risk to health. When there is any medical waste or virus or toxins present in particular areas, and they can be of any danger to human or any other living organisms, the bio-hazard symbol is placed. This way, you can take necessary precautions and not be exposed to the harmful substances; actually, only authorized personnel are allowed in this area.
Caution
For example - Near construction sites

Also called the "warning" sign, the caution symbol is placed to make people aware of possible dangers or hazards ahead. Typically, using a yellow triangle with an exclamation mark is a warning about any potential dangers in the vicinity.
A caution or warning symbol can also be represented by a triangular sign with orange-yellow background and exclamation mark, triangular sign with white background and exclamation mark, and triangular sign with yellow background and exclamation mark.
Danger
For example - Near high points of a valley

This is a more well-known symbol; this sign basically tells bystanders that there may be dangerous chemicals, deep waters, hazardous machines and equipment, or trenches in a particular area. Apart from this sign, another sign is also used where there is a skull with two bones in a shape of an X.
This sign usually means that there is a possibility of loss of life in that particular area. Which is why, mandatory precautions and safety measures should be followed.
Electrical safety
For example - On a high voltage transformer pole

Also called the high voltage sign, this sign usually has an electric wire with the plug attached to it or a zigzag arrow. It is used to tell people there may be certain electrical machines and/or equipment in the vicinity. Which is why, taking utmost care is necessary, as there can be danger of getting an electric shock.
After a particular capacity of voltage, if you come in contact with the energy, you can suffer sever injuries or even death.
Environmental hazard
For example - On plastic bags

This sign has a withered tree and a dead fish symbol; this explains that there may be certain materials or chemicals capable of causing environmental damage or pollution. Loss of either human lives and/or other living organisms is possible. Which is why, proper care should be followed while in the vicinity.
Eye safety
For example - On the doors of chemical labs

The sign shows a pair of snow goggles. This suggests that there may be hazardous materials, which can cause irritation to the eyes. Hence, wearing protective eye goggles is necessary in that particular vicinity. It is vital, because there can be substances that can damage or cause injury to your eyes. You have to wear the suggested eye goggles in the required area at all times.
First aid
For example - On the ambulance

A square box with a green (+) sign, usually indicates medical emergency. This is an internationally accepted symbol. Apart from the symbol given here, even the symbol of Red Cross is sometimes used to indicate the first aid sign. At times, the Red Cross symbol is also used, but it is to let people know that there is an ambulance service in the nearby vicinity.
Flammable
For example - On deodorant bottles

Again, a sign of fire which usually means that in that particular vicinity, it is possible to catch fire fairly easily. This sign can be indicated through various symbols. Although, a yellow or white background with flames is typically shown to indicate the possible danger. The substance/chemical in that area is the reason for the risk of fire.
Irritant
For example - On sulfuric acid bottle

Harmful symbol is denoted by an X with a small 'h' on the bottom-right corner and the irritant symbol is denoted by an X with a small 'i' on the bottom-right corner. This harmful substance or material can cause irritation to your eyes, skin, or anywhere inside the body.
Poison
For example - On repellent coils, balls, or spray bottles

Somewhat similar to the danger symbol, the poison symbol also has a skull with two bones. This symbol usually means that there may be poisonous materials in the vicinity and extra care and precautions are to be taken. Wearing proper clothes, as mentioned or advised, should be on at all times.
Radioactive
For example - On the doors of X-Ray and MRI units in hospitals

This is another well-known symbol. This sign usually tells that there may be radioactive substances or materials in the area. Due to exposure to radiation, a person may suffer damage to their cells, and it may cause cancer as well. Extreme care is to be taken while in the area; actually, only authorized personnel are allowed in this area.
These were a few of the safety signs that everyone should be educated about. Used at various vicinities such as schools, science and chemistry labs, hospitals, etc., these signs can easily warn bystanders about potential damage. This way, they can take proper precautionary methods.