ABYC Releases Consolidated Boat Warning Labels

American Boat and Yacht Council (ABYC) has been working with Design Research Engineering (DRE), a consulting firm, for some time to develop a series of warnings that are grouped together (consolidated) for use on certain types of vessels (such as gasoline outboard powered open motor boats) in certain locations (helm, cabin, transom, occupant, deck). Some consolidated warnings use the signal word “Warning” and some use the signal word “Danger”.

ABYC’s May 2015 newsletter announced the release of the new consolidated warnings.

ABYC May 2015 newsletter announces consolidated warnings

ABYC May 2015 newsletter announces consolidated warnings

ABYC’s newsletter pointed viewers to an accompanying press release and a location from which to download the new warnings.

ABYC’s press release includes the following statement:

“ABYC continues to set the standard for safer boating,” said Dave Marlow, ABYC chairman of the board. “Through extensive industry research, it developed guidance for manufacturers to provide consumer warnings in a format that is easier to understand. This is a big step forward and one that will certainly benefit boaters.”

While we were able to eventually find, download, unzip, and resize the associated files, we suspect many will not be able to overcome the challenges too numerous to mention here required to do so.

ABYC helm warning for outboard boat

ABYC helm warning for outboard boats

The new warnings are composed of multiple warnings in an attempt to reduce clutter resulting from numerous stand alone warnings. The consolidated warning for the helm of an open outboard motor powered boat is shown at right. We kept the image very small to not infringe on any copyright issues. The same helm warning is also available in a horizontal format (has the same warnings scattered over two columns instead of one long row).

We are glad to see ABYC release this long coming addition to boating warning labels. We encourage ABYC to make the warnings easier to find and download, and to add some of them to their existing press release as examples so casual viewers can quickly gain a feel for the format of the new consolidated warnings.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) was also a player in gathering the research and developing the labels. We anticipate use of the new consolidated boat warning labels will eventually be required by participants in NMMA’s certified boat and yacht builder program.

At this time we have only briefly seen the warnings in their final format. We already have many comments about the new consolidated warnings, not all of which are favorable.

This post is one of several posts on the ABYC Consolidated Warnings. Links to all the posts are supplied below.


  1. while very good information is contained in these new labels, they are not specific to boat types and loose some of the impact. There is an obvious lack of warning dealing with bow riding and safety concerns about bow riding on pontoon boats or riding outside of safety gates, rails, etc. that are provided. There could also be a RENTAL Instruction or checklist provided or mentioned.

    Every type of boat has it’s unique designs and traits that should be considered. That is why I don’t think universal labels are the answer.

    • My understanding is ABYC will be reviewing their existing warnings document (T-5) that is really a technical information report and not a standard at their annual standards meeting next month (January 2016). One suspects the conversation will also circle to the consolidated warning labels. T-5 has not been updated since 2002 and most industries have long since migrated to ANSI Z535.4 (three panel warnings that often include a pictograph / symbolic representation of the hazard). The new boating combined/consolidated warnings are far from compliant with ANSI Z535.4. We will see what happens. Thanks for your comment.

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