First of all I'm completely against this idea but a few people who contribute to the technical documentation project constantly suggest that to attain a short, quick, economic, comprehensive message some basic rules can be broken. Things like completely omitting the articles, using simpler words to explain things, using the imperative mode to shorten verbs, even tossing out basic grammar rules etc.
Are there some rules of thumb or even legal directives about the language of machine safety labels?
I'm citing a few examples of text written by those outsiders and my suggested corrections to make my case more clear:
Do not open this cover while powered
Do not open this cover while the machine is powered
Ensure power is disconnected before servicing
Ensure that the power is disconnected before servicing the machine
Do not clean the machine using water or materials that can generate an explosive atmosphere
Do not clean the machine using chemicals that can generate an explosive atmosphere or using water that can create an electric shock
Thanks for your answers. I mostly conclude with every answer but I have to apologize to all of you because I think I did mislead you by not presenting my case in detail. I'll give more details even if it's a little bit late.
We manufacture big machines which have too much surface area and therefore our labels have too much space for details, too. We have 4 kinds of labels:
- There are informational labels which are used to designate the inlets (The type of the heating power such as steam or gas and the water inlets), the power switch, and the grounding connection quickly and precisely. Those inlets are also designated on the installation layouts and projects, so these labels are not the only markers of these inlets. They are there mostly to quickly remind the authorized personnel of their functions. They just include the 1 or 2 words describing the inlet type, a pictogram for it and if it's necessary the pressure limits of the heating supply.
I don't have any problems with these labels.
- There are two purely graphical labels which don't have any words on them. They only show the rotation direction of the blades of a fan and the bolt locations of the safety belts which have to be unbolted after the installation phase.
I don't have any problems with these labels, too.
- There two legends for the explanation of the status light patterns and the explanation of the abbreviations used on the simpler model of the control panels that we are using.
Again, I don't have any problems with these labels.
- There are the safety and information labels. We've designed the labels to include as much information as possible but at the same time to display this information in a practical and useful manner. Most of these labels include an internationally valid pictogram, a word describing the message type of the label in colored background and big fonts (Information, Warning, Caution, and Danger), a title of the label in very big fonts (which corresponds to the content that most of you were answering) and the details of the title message in either just one font size or sometimes if the message details are too long in two different font sizes.
I mostly don't have any problems with the title of our labels. They are the type of labels which most of you did mention in your answers.
My problem is with these detailed text parts of our labels. I'm including a screenshot which contains four types of our safety and information labels so you can clearly see how they are constructed.
I'm aware that most of your answers can still be valid for them, too. I'll try to be more open minded when dealing with them in the future but I'll wait for your reactions to the detailed edit to my question before accepting one of your answers
Note: These label are printed on a transparent material which is the reason for different font colors. The ones with black fonts are meant to be fixed on light colored panels whereas the ones with white fonts are meant to be fixed on dark colored panels to enhance the readibility.