Hazard symbols or warning symbols are recognizable symbols designed to warn about hazardous materials, locations, or objects, including electric currents, poisons, and radioactivity. The use of hazard symbols is often regulated by law and directed by standards organizations. Hazard symbols may appear with different colors, backgrounds, borders and supplemental information in order to specify the type of hazard. Warning symbols are used in many places in lieu of or addition to written warnings as they are quickly recognized (faster than reading a written warning) and more universally understood (the same symbol can be recognized as having the same meaning to speakers of different languages).
On roadside warning signs, an exclamation mark is often used to draw attention to a generic warning of danger, hazards, and the unexpected. In Europe, this type of sign is used if there are no more-specific signs to denote a particular hazard. When used for traffic signs, it is accompanied by a supplementary sign describing the hazard, usually mounted under the exclamation mark.
This symbol has also been more widely adopted for generic use in many other contexts not associated with road traffic. It often appears on hazardous equipment or in instruction manuals to draw attention to a precaution, when a more-specific warning symbol is not available.
Source: Hazard symbol from Wikipedia
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