News & Updates
From Resource Label Group

Learning to read labels

Posted on December 15th, 2021

Child safety essentials to recognize on common products

Household products like cleaners, pesticides and other chemicals can be dangerous for children. Lawnmowers and other common equipment also come with safety hazards. And parents need to know how to read product labels to protect their children from harm.

Producers are also required to enhance product safety by providing clearly legible, visually noticeable and long-lasting safety labels to help protect consumers.

Who reads labels?

Consumers read safety labels to learn and avoid any risks of serious injury or death related to a product. 

These hazard labels are permanently affixed to equipment and/or product packaging, clearly indicating potential safety hazards and how to avoid them. Check out the ANSI’s outline on the safety color system and key terms to better understand safety labels.

Manufacturers compile critical safety information on each label. Resource Label Group reviews the label construction spec for our clients to ensure this critical information will be legibly printed without shrinking, peeling or tearing.

Regulators like UL are charged with keeping the public safe from harmful products, so they’re very interested in the safety warnings. UL inspects materials and manufacturing processes to ensure that products and their attached labels don’t pose a fire or electrical safety risk.

Many brands take their labels a step further by adding radio frequency identification (RFID) tags to engage with their customers at a personal level. With the scan of a label, consumers can access educational content and product-specific landing pages that further educate them on how to safely use the product.

What’s on the label?

Regulators often require companies to fit a lot of information onto child warning labels.

Companies can use extended content labels (ECLs) to meet those requirements while saving space for brand logos and promotional material. These labels are ideal for products packaged in small bottles, so you’ll find them on things like chemicals, pharmaceuticals, vitamins and nutraceuticals. 

ECLs can be used to include safety practices as well as promotional information. They can incorporate aspects like emergency information, first aid instructions, ingredients, multiple languages, cross-promotional materials and much more.

There’s more to a label than the printed language. There also are protective measures that keep the print in place so the consumer can reference it over the course of the product’s lifetime.

Consider how your product is used and stored. Will it get wet, handled regularly and/or exposed to sunlight? Can chemicals in your product damage its label? We can help you find the right protective coating, adhesive and other measures to make sure your label is legible for the life of the product. 

What’s required, what’s helpful

Regulators require products such as toxic chemicals or other potentially harmful substances to be marked with safety labels. 

Labels must include information on how to use the product safely and effectively, as well as storage and first aid instructions. It should also offer phone numbers so customers can access more information. Labels must inform customers on how to use products safely and correctly, including, for example, warnings to open windows, wear gloves and not breathe product dust. They also tell parents when to keep children away from spills and treated areas.

Choking hazard labels also are required for latex balloons, balls and marbles with a diameter of 1.75 inches or less intended for children 3 and older.

In an emergency, every second matters. That’s why it’s important to include safety information in common language with easy-to-read print that everyone can readily understand and act upon. Make sure it’s as simple as possible for parents to know how to prevent health hazards and what to do in case there is one, such as providing the number to poison control where it’s easy to see on the product. 

Adding easy-to-read safety labels with helpful advice gives parents the impression that you care about their children’s safety, and they’ll appreciate your brand for that.

Common products requiring safety information on labels

The Federal Hazardous Substances Act requires safety labels for kids on household products that could cause substantial personal harm if ingested. Products require safety labels if they’re toxic, corrosive, flammable, combustible, or if they cause physical irritation or sensitivity. They’re also required for products that can be pressurized by decomposition, heat or something else.

Hazardous products commonly found in homes and schools include by are not limited to:

  • Pesticides like weed killer, insecticides and flea collars include chemicals specifically designed to be harmful and are highly dangerous if exposed to children. 
  • Paints and solvents can be a lot of fun in arts and crafts, but they’re often highly toxic and can cause severe vomiting or worse if ingested.
  • Polishes, glues and inks contain multiple harmful chemicals that are harmful if inhaled or ingested.
  • Cosmetics like aerosol products, deodorant sprays and bubble bath require label warnings. Baby labels can be added to cosmetic products designed to be safe for children.
  • Cleaning chemicals can freshen up a room, but they also can have severe health consequences if a child gets them in their eyes, nose or mouth. They can cause skin or respiratory irritation, watery eyes or chemical burns, and some are associated with long-term effects like cancer.
  • Choking hazards like small balloons, marbles and toys

Child safety labels: Parents need to understand

Child safety labels don’t help if parents don’t understand them. But with the range of chemicals in everyday products, it can be difficult to keep up with the hazards that can lay within homes.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission offers toy safety tips and other resources to help parents understand the dangers of choking hazards, poison prevention and much more.

Mistakes relating to child safety labels could happen at any level, from the manufacturer to the parent, but children pay the ultimate price. So stay safe and learn what you need to know about the risks related to the products in your home.

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