Warning Signs for Chemical Hazards

Written by david ferris
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Warning Signs for Chemical Hazards
Chemical hazard signs help prevent injuries. (Hemera Technologies/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Chemicals are almost ubiquitous in industry, science and medicine, and their benefits are innumerable. However, the hazards of working with chemicals necessitate clear signage to communicate their dangers. Chemical warning signs are often both nonverbal and verbal, brightly coloured to attract attention and encoded with symbols so that persons of any language can read them. Many of these signs are also internationally standardised.


The skull and crossbones is an internationally recognised icon that signifies death and doom in general and chemical toxicity in particular. The skull and crossbones symbol is often inscribed within a black and yellow triangle -- itself an international symbol of danger -- and may include the words "Toxic Substances," "Toxic" or "Poison." Such signs are applicable to any harmful chemical.

Hand Washing

Proper cleanup is an important aspect of working with chemicals; correspondingly, proper signage reminds people of the same. Signs relating to hand washing can simply state "Wash Hands" in block letters or present a recognisable image of hand washing.

Corrosive Substance

Another chemical warning sign is that which advertises the presence of a corrosive substance. Such chemicals can degrade clothing, furniture, human flesh or other matter. Spills of corrosive substances can be deadly. Related signs may include some iteration of the phrase "Warning: Corrosive Substances" and an illustration of a human hand or flat surface with a wavy-lined image suggesting pain or steam arising from the point of contact.

Showers and Eyewashes

Most settings in which hazardous chemicals are present will have a specialised wash station or shower for eye contamination. Because treating such injuries is urgent, these stations are typically marked with clear signage. The signs may depict a simple illustration of a shower or sink featuring an approximation of running water alongside the figure of a person or a human eye. Supplementing the imagery should be words such as "Emergency Shower" or "Eye Wash Station" in letters large enough for people to see them from anywhere in the room.

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