The ANSI Z535 Accredited Standards Committee is in the process of creating a new standard, ANSI Z535.6, which will address the presentation of safety information in product manuals, instructions and other collateral materials. This paper is intended to provide advance notice of this forthcoming standard to the safety community as well as an overview of the history, content and implications of the standard.

History of ANSI Z535-Series Standards

The basic mission and fundamental purpose of the ANSI Z535 Committee is to develop, refine, and promote a uniform graphic system used for communicating safety and accident prevention information.

One of the earliest precursors to the Z535-series standards, ASA Z35.1 - 1941, stressed the importance of sign uniformity to promote safety in the workplace:

"Sign uniformity is of great importance. When various concerns in either the same or different industries all use signs of definite design and color to warn of particular hazards, to express caution, to provide general information, or to point out directions, the use of accident prevention signs will be considerably more effective. Such practice will result in workers becoming familiar with the few necessary sign designs, no matter where they work, and confusion with unfamiliar signs will be avoided" (ASA Z35.1-1941; p. 9).

ASA/USASI/ANSI Z53.1 provided similar uniformity for safety colors used in the workplace, and USASI/ANSI Z35.2 specified uniform formats for accident prevention tags.

In 1979, the ANSI Z53 Committee on Safety Colors was combined with the ANSI Z35 Committee on Safety Signs to form the ANSI Z535 Committee on Safety Signs and Colors. This committee has the following scope:

"To develop standards for the design, application, and use of signs, colors and symbols intended to identify and warn against specific hazards and for other accident prevention purposes."

The ANSI Z535 Committee on Safety Signs and Colors originally published five American National Standards:

  • ANSI Z535.1 (1991): Safety color code

  • ANSI Z535.2 (1991): Environmental and facility safety signs

  • ANSI Z535.3 (1991): Criteria for safety symbols

  • ANSI Z535.4 (1991): Product safety signs and labels

  • ANSI Z535.5 (1991): Accident prevention tags (for temporary hazards)

Together these five standards contain information needed to specify formats, colors, and symbols for safety signs used in environmental and facility applications, product applications, and accident prevention tags.

In the course of preparing the 2002 edition of the Z535 standards, the ANSI Z535 Accredited Standards Committee considered the merits and practicality of developing a new standard addressing the presentation of safety messages in collateral materials such as owner's manuals, instruction books, troubleshooting and repair manuals, etc. In 2002, the committee voted to form a new subcommittee, ANSI Z535.6. The purpose of this new subcommittee is to develop a standard to complement the existing Z535 standards by dealing with various aspects of the provision of safety information in collateral materials.

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