New Radiation Warning Sign

C.J. MacKenzie (International Atomic Energy Agency)

Radiation accidents involving orphan radioactive sources have happened as a result of people not recognising the radiation trefoil symbol or from being illiterate and not understanding a warning statement on the radiation source. The trefoil symbol has no inherent meaning to people that have not been instructed in it's use. A new radiation warning sign, to supplement the existing trefoil symbol, has been developed to address these issues. Human factors experts, United Nations member states, and members of the international community of radiation protection professionals were consulted for input on the design of a new radiation warning sign that would clearly convey the message of "Danger- Run Away- Stay Away" when in close proximity to a dangerous source of radiation. Cultural differences of perception on various warning symbols were taken into consideration and arrays of possible signs were developed. The signs were initially tested in international children for identification with the desired message and response. Based on these test results and further input from radiation protection professionals, five warning signs were identified as the most successful in conveying the desired message and response. These five signs were tested internationally in eleven countries by a professional survey company to determine the best sign for this purpose. The conclusion of the international testing is presented. The new radiation warning sign is currently a draft ISO standard under committee review. The design of the proposed radiation warning sign and the proposed implementation strategy outlined in the draft ISO standard is presented.

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