Hazard sign comprehension among illiterate adults

Nicol, A. ; Seppo, P. (2007)


Hazard signs have been considered an effective mode of transferring safety information for many decades. However, research is beginning to show that many of these signs are not understood, resulting in increasing numbers of preventable accidents (Wilkinson, Cary, Barr, and Reynolds 1997; Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 1999; Occupational and Environmental Health Research Unit (OEHRU) 2003; Kalaroa 2005; Lesch 2005). This is particularly the case in South Africa, where poisoning and burn victims are seen daily in our hospitals. In the review below, factors that have been found to influence sign comprehension are discussed. This is followed by an overview of research pertaining to people's understanding of hazard signs. The chapter concludes by proposing two research questions aimed at evaluating how illiterate adults in South Africa comprehend selected hazard signs.

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