The new ISO 82079-1 standard shows a pretty smart improvement. It helps technical communicators make the distinction between safety words related to risk of harm to persons and signal words for damage to property.
Signal words in the ISO 82079-1 standard
Harm to persons (physical risk)
DANGER = Signal word used to indicate an imminently hazardous situation which if not avoided will result in death or serious injury
WARNING = Signal word used to indicate a potentially hazardous situation which, if not avoided, could result in death or serious injury.
CAUTION = Signal word used to indicate a potentially hazardous situation which, if not avoided could result in minor or moderate injury
Damage to property
Signal words for potential risks of damage to the supported product are NOTICE, ATTENTION or TAKE CARE.
They are appropriate to the potential damage or to the precaution advised to any kind of property, including software.
NOTICE! When you shut down the control system, you must use the Windows XP shutdown sequence. If you do not, it can cause a loss of data
How does this apply to the medical field?
Generally speaking, it’s a 2 step process:
(a) calibration (preparation/configuration of a software application)
(b) X-ray therapy (with the patient positioned on the machine)
Two distinct professions are involved: the Radiotherapist and the Dosimetrist.
The Dosimetrist works in a separate computer room to define the radiation dose, whereas the Radiotherapist is in the treatment space and in close contact with the machine AND with the patient.
When documenting the calibration phase (taking place in the computer room), the author won’t use any signal word such as DANGER, WARNING and CAUTION, since the risk is « a loss of patient data »
If the Temp indicator light on the control cabinet flashes, exit the ABC page, shut down the control system, and contact your service representative.If you do not, it can cause damage to the control cabinet. This can then cause patient data loss
On the other hand, because he is in direct contact with the X-ray machine, the Radiotherapist might be exposed to physical harm.
Make sure that you do not put hands or fingers in the path of the parts of the XY detector arm that move. Push or pull the XY detector arm from the front of the XY detector panel only. If you ignore this warning, it can cause injury to fingers and hands.
Interested in another example of applying the
right safety words to the baking industry?
What about documenting the control software?