Propeller Warning Labels Seen at the 2012 Tulsa Boat Show
We attended the 2012 Tulsa Boat Show on Saturday morning February 4, 2012. While still getting used to my new digital camera, Lora and I walked around and shot photos of propeller warning decals. I am well aware there is quite a bit of variety in propeller warning decals, but found an even broader selection at this show than I would have anticipated. We show some of them below, as well as some other warning labels seen at the 2012 Tulsa Boat Show.
The comments below are NOT an analysis of boat propeller warning labels. They are just our quick observations of some of the variety seen in propeller warning labels at a single boat show. We are not saying any of the labels are better or worse than others. We are just saying they are different. We continue to encourage the industry to adopt ANSI Z535 standards for boat propeller warning labels.
Many propeller warning decals are used in conjunction with the boat boarding ladder as shown in the Brunswick Bayliner boat ladder example above. We talk further about Brunswick’s use of a Danger label instead of the typical Warning label later in this post.
We did find it a bit odd they went with ALL CAPS (all capital letters) at the stern (thought to be harder / slower to read because you have to read it a chunk / word at a time vs. the flow of normal text), but with typical mixed upper and lower case text at the helm.
Bayliner’s transom propeller warning label does not identify the hazard (Propeller, Rotating Propeller) and does not graphically portray that hazard. How can it be a propeller warning when the word propeller or the image of propeller are no where to be seen?
Many boats have rectangular warning decals with square corners, however, some boat builders round the corners of their propeller warning decals as seen in the example above.
While others round their corners much more aggressively as seen in the propeller warning label above. This warning label also uses a taller font that appears much less bold (thick) than most propeller warning decals. With its mix of upper and lower case letters and font selection, it is relatively quick to read compared to some others.
We note this warning label uses two of the safety alert symbols (exclamation mark symbols), one on either side of the Warning panel at the top of the decal. We are used to only seeing one, with it being on the left side.
We also note the safety alert symbol is a bit different that the others. In this instance they just print the perimeter of the triangle and the exclamation mark in black directly on the orange background. Typically the body of the triangle is black and the exclamation mark is the background color (as seen in the boat propeller warning label above) or the body of the triangle is white and the exclamation mark is white as seen in the Brunswick Bayliner Danger decal on this page, or the triangle is outlined in black, and filled with yellow while the exclamation mark is in black (as seen in the Clarion label example on this page).
This propeller warning decal is square cut and uses all caps in its text. Many believe that all caps is slower to read than the mixed upper and lower case text we are used to reading.
We can envision a manufacturer thinking that all caps text might attract more attention to the warning label (and it might), but fewer people might actually read and comprehend it.
As noted elsewhere on this page, some manufacturers have a different idea about what color the warning panel should be for a warning. Some are much more yellow than others as seen in the example above.
This Propeller Danger decal / label is one of few we have ever seen. Most boat builders use Warning decals. We suspect they think the prominent use of DANGER decals would make boats a bit harder to sell.
However, Brunswick has stepped up and put a Propeller Danger decal on this small Bayliner boat, and another one at the helm. The helm warning is in a long strip decal viewable elsewhere on this page.
Now if we could just get them to actually identify the hazard (Propeller, Rotating Propeller) on the transom label. They do not even use the word propeller on the decal.
This elliptical shaped Propeller Warning label mimics a ANSI Z535 warning label. It has the warning panel, an image panel, and a text panel. The warning’s elliptical shape combined with white on black text make it more than a bit unusual, however it is certainly more pleasant on the eyes than most propeller warnings. Since many are mounted on white boats, the black background draws some attention, however we find it a bit hard to read white text on a black background. We also note the text is in all caps.
Although the text does not mention the word “propeller”, a rotating propeller is depicted in the graphic.
This propeller warning label is certainly the most “artistic” of those we photographed that day. The elliptical shape with its border getting wider at the left edge, the graphic, the allocation of space to the graphic in relation to the allocation of space for the text, and the white on black text in all caps show somebody has some design skills.
Being so “artsy” might draw some additional attention to the decal and increase its readership.
It was on a small Bayliner stern drive boat being sold by Bayer Marine of Tulsa Oklahoma.
We find it odd that Bayliner is showing DANGER on the stern of one boat and WARNING on the stern of the next one right beside it. They might be different model years?
Many pontoon boats put propeller safety decals on the pontoons as viewed from the rear of the boat. This rectangular warning label is on the rear facing edge of the deck just above the pontoons.
Most transom propeller warning labels we photographed at the show included the phrase “do not approach or use” in reference to the boarding ladder. We notice this pontoon boat propeller warning left off the “approach” element.
This pontoon boat featured a square propeller warning affixed to a pontoon. We also note the text is in all caps (often thought the be slower to read than a the typical mix of upper and lower case letters in a warning).
The text is a little less bold (thick) than some of the other bolded examples making it a bit easier to read.
The warning panel on this decal is as red or redder that a danger decal. Compare it the other pontoon boat decal above it. As we prepared the images for posting, we certainly shifted the colors some, but we did observe a broad span of colors used for warning panels at the show.
We also note this pontoon boat propeller warning label left off the word “approach” from its label in reference to the boarding ladder, just like the other pontoon boat warning label above it did.
Bayliner Boat With Several Warning Labels
Manufacturers sometimes complain that if they put a warning on everything, nobody will read them. We are not saying this small Brunswick Bayliner boat has too many warnings, but it is certainly carrying several of them at the helm.This same small Bayliner Boat has large warning decal in the form of a vertical strip mounted near the shift throttle controls. The propeller warning for the helm is included in this strip. We studied this strip a while, and to us it does not appear that new boater would quickly grasp which panel (warning, danger, caution, etc) went with which message. Meaning, does WARNING go the text above or below it? Or with both?
Plus the Caution appears to be intended to go with the text both above and below it.
Part of the confusion is created by the informational text panel at the very top (about life jackets). The strip then jumps to a number of caution/ warning/ danger panels and gets a bit confusing. That confusion is probably also contributed to by its overall length.
From the propeller danger decal at the stern, we think the DANGER panel goes with the propeller warning text. This is one of few boats to use DANGER instead of WARNING with the propeller safety text.
Traditional safety standards require the use of Caution, Warning, and Danger as described below.
Caution without the safety alert symbol (exclamation mark) – a potentially hazardous situation which, if not avoided, may result in property damage.
Caution with the safety alert symbol – a potentially hazardous situation which, if not avoided, could result in minor or moderate injury.
Warning – a potentially hazardous situation which, if not avoided, could result in death or serious injury.
Danger – an imminently hazardous situation, which if not avoided, will result in death or serious injury.
Considering the difference in the definitions for Warning and Danger, and Brunswick Bayliner boats moving from Warning to Danger on the Propeller decals / labels, Brunswick seems to be openly recognizing propellers are more dangerous than they were previously calling them.
This boat pairs a propeller warning decal next to a MUCH LARGER instructional decal that explains how to pin the boarding ladder. The boat propeller warning decal may often be overlooked as eyes are drawn to the much larger, more inviting ladder instruction decal.
Carbon Monoxide Warning Labels
We noticed a lot of carbon monoxide warning labels at the show and include this one as an example.
It stands as an example of the boating industry knowing how to make a classic ANSI Z535 looking decal (Danger panel, image panel, text panel). They just do not seem to ever be able to do it for a propeller warning.
At times, there have been discussions of physically pairing propeller and carbon monoxide warnings into a single decal.
Are We Ever Going to See ANSI Z535 Propeller Danger Decals?ANSI Z535 decals are broadly used in other industries. They are typically composed of a picture panel, and a text panel, under a caution, warning or danger panel.
In the past, we have theorized the boating industry’s continued reluctance to move to ANSI Z535 Propeller Warnings of the nature of those above might be due to being forced in ANSI Z535 to move from using a Warning panel to the Danger panel for propellers. It appear like Brunswick has a least now made the step from Warning to Danger on some vessels.
Still a Lot of Boats With No Propeller Warnings
We saw several boats with no propeller warnings labels or carbon monoxide warning labels at the transom. Its possible that since these were new boats, some builders may not have installed those labels yet, maybe even on purpose to make their boats more inviting at the boat show. We were certainly surprised to see so many boats with no propeller warning labels on them at all.
Water Jets Have Warning Labels Too
We hear some talk about water jets as a possible safer option to open propellers, but they create some hazards of their own as seen in this water jet warning decal.
If you would like to see more propeller warnings, please see our similar coverage of Propeller Warnings at the 2013 Tulsa Boat Show.