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Everywhere you go, barcodes are there. From shopping to shipping, to transport, to our finances, our stock and information are constantly processed and recorded through an array of simple, parallel lines. Barcodes now carry with them an unprecedented level of trust, but they only entered the popular consciousness in 1974. How, then, did people conduct business and shop safely before the barcode?

The Beginning of the Barcode: Punch Cards

Before the bar code, shops and businesses needed to count stock manually, with issues such as shoplifting being much more common than modern levels. Without barcodes and their associated security systems, there was a total lack of deterrence as shoplifters couldn’t be caught as easily. After the wilderness years of pre-1890, where shopkeepers had to rely on stock counts and perceptive eyes, a punch card system was slowly adopted. These punch cards could only be used for simple arithmetic though. So, by the rise of the supermarkets in the 1920s, they were found to be old-fashioned and obsolete.

The Creation Phase: An Academic Study

Bar codes were, initially, dreams found in the realm of academic discussion and entrepreneurial spirit. The earliest record can be traced back to the 1930s by Wallace Flint, whose Harvard thesis envisioned an “automated grocery system” using punch cards and flow racks.

Essentially, Flint’s vision of the retail future was where customers would go to a store, mark their selections on a punch card, and insert these cards into a card reader which would then activate flow racks to bring customers their desired product.

The system doesn’t sound too dissimilar to modern self-service checkouts and stores like Argos, so maybe Flint was onto something. The idea, though, went nowhere due to cost, but it did get people thinking.

A decade or so later in 1948, a pair of graduate students at Drexler University embarked on their first steps to creating the first barcode. After overhearing a colleague turn down a proposal from a food-chain president to invent a machine to capture product information accurately, the pair – named Bernard Silver and Joseph Woodland – began working on a retail system to capture information. The first device they invented used patterns of ink that would glow under ultraviolet light, but this, much like Flint’s ideas, was not economically viable.

On the verge of giving up, the pair decided to pop to the beach to unwind. Woodland began absent-mindedly drawing Morse code dots in the sand, before drawing vertical lines from each dot. Suddenly, he had his sought-after “Eureka!” moment.

He thought if Morse code could be translated to the retail sphere, it could easily and quickly communicate product information. However, the pair then struggled on how to design the barcode label and to put it on a product.

Answering “How to do Barcode”, Teething Problems and Cashing In

Silver and Woodland were met with a few problems to solve, including how small a barcode can be, what it should look like, how to put a barcode on a product and how to plan out its overall design.

After some time struggling to envision the proto-barcode, they eventually perfected it by changing the lines on it to bulls-eye patterns. They then filed a patent for the barcode, which they named “Classifying Apparatus and Method” – very catchy. They sold the patent for $15,000 to Philco in 1962, who then sold it to RCA.

Following those years, RCA and IBM vied for barcode dominance until 1974, when the first barcode sale was completed in Troy, Ohio at 8:01 AM using IBM’s system. The first sale was a 10-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum for 67 cents. The rest, they say, is history.

Modern Developments

Since that day in 1974, barcodes have been used non-stop all over the world. Nowadays, airliners are trialling RFID tracking via barcodes so customers never lose their luggage again, scientists believe they can map the human brain using barcode technology, and the world of shipping is on its way to being dominated entirely by the technology.

Overall, the simple barcode label has come a long way from a futuristic thesis on retail shopping to a piece of technology that the world relies on.

It pays to have good barcode labels and Label Source has stocked the best in barcode labels for a variety of uses. For more from the ever-changing world of labels, be sure to follow Label Source on Facebook and Twitter.

ear protection to stop ear damage

Adhering to ear protection standards in the workplace means following regulations 7 (hearing protection), 8 (Maintenance and use of equipment) and 10 (Information, instruction and training) of the Control of Noise Regulations at Work Regulations 2005.

The law was passed in order to establish a variety of exposure limits which set out the average level of noise an employee could be exposed to during a working day. Loosely, the law set out what ear protection would be needed and, by extension, what extent of damage is acceptable and not acceptable. Every workplace in Europe must now adhere to this system, including providing safety equipment when the average level is exceeded.

The Details of the Control of Noise Regulations at Work Regulations 2005

The act introduced exposure limits that are set at decibels (dB). Each dB is given a rating that corresponds to its exposure. Employers must provide hearing protection and specific hearing protection zones at 85 decibels, plus they must officially review and assess the safety of their staff at 80 decibels. The absolute exposure limit is 87 decibels, which takes into account the protection of safety equipment.

What Is Ear Protection: Signposting and Safety Equipment

Ear protection signs are a visual reminder to employees to put on safety equipment. Ear protection includes ear plugs, ear defenders, headphones, and ear muffs. Signs must be placed up well in advance of encountering the noise and should be in a clear, easy-to-spot place.

Fundamentally, though, employers are expected to replace dangerously loud machines with quieter, more modern counterparts as a long-term solution. While this isn’t always feasible, it is the best way to deal with damage to employee hearing.

What is “Ear Protection Must Be Worn” Sign Meaning

As with all safety signs, these ear protection signs must comply with the harmonised standard EN 7010 and the Signs and Safety Regulations 1996 law. These govern the correct use of the symbol or pictogram, as well as colour and layout.

The “Ear Protection Must Be Worn” sign is blue and white, complete with a pictogram of a face with ear protection on.

Other Uses for Ear Protection

Ear protection can also help protect against dust, water, and foreign objects entering the eardrums. This is especially important in workplaces that have air polluted with heavy elements or whenever hazardous chemicals are handled in large amounts.

Claims Against Employers

Last year, a successful industrial deafness claim was filed by former violist Chris Goldscheider against the Royal Opera House. The musician suffered a life-changing hearing injury in 2012 which managed to be the basis for the first claim of acoustic shock in legal records.

Goldscheider was incorrectly seated directly in front of the brass section of the where he endured noise levels that exceeded 130 decibels without any protection. For comparison’s sake, 130 decibels is roughly that of a jet engine.

Want to Learn More?

Stay up to date with the world of health and safety and ear protection with Label Source’s range of ear protection signs. In addition, follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest health and safety news.

Warning Signs In Hollywood Films

Hollywood would be nowhere if the characters of their films adhered to warning signs and followed health & safety protocol. If this fictional world functioned on the same terms as real life, then the action, thriller and cheesy horror genres would probably dissipate entirely. Fiction plays an important cautionary role in our lives, but some films would be totally different if their cast were properly schooled on health and safety. That being said, the films below are Label Source’s definition of a nightmare.

Alien (1979)

Believe it or not, Label Source is not an expert on extra-terrestrial protocol. However, the opening minutes of Ridley Scott’s 1979 epic Alien is full of health & safety hazards. Firstly, the landing protocol and flight onto LV-426, the film’s alien-infested moon, is a health and safety travesty. Secondly, the crew’s ignorance of biohazard quarantine procedures is disconcerting. Under no circumstance can quarantine be ignored in the handling of biohazards, nor the proper signposting of potentially dangerous land. Overall, the whole saga could have been avoided with proper biohazard tapes and a good dose of health and safety.

Jaws (1975)

The only thing we can focus on when watching Jaws is: where on Earth are the warning and hazard signs? Where are the trained lifeguards? The animal safety protocol? The most terrifying aspect of this film isn’t the giant shark, but the ignorance displayed towards health & safety from everyone involved. Maybe throwing a health & safety manual at the bloody shark would make it go away.

Metropolis (1927)

Now, Label Source aren’t experts in the machinations of a magnate-dominated dystopia, but we’re pretty sure the dire working conditions isn’t conducive to an effective totalitarian regime. Throughout the film, working conditions show blatant disregard for basic health & safety. While the film may have ushered in the science-fiction genre, the film’s plot could have probably been circumvented with effective usage of workplace warning signs.

Office Space (1999)

Now, if there was ever a case of poor mental health and safety in a twentieth-century workplace, it’s Office Space. From start to finish, the office that forms the basis of the film is brimming with exhausted, overworked employees who receive no support. Mental health is an important part of workplace health and safety, which Office Space outright ignores. The protagonist's eventual rebelliousness also goes far against contemporary office protocol, too. How is he allowed to move his office cubicle when it clearly breaches fire safety? Utter madness.

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Okay, we can suspend our disbelief for a lot of this story, but how has the Mad Hatter managed to ply his trade for so long without proper signposting and safety procedures against mercury poisoning? The guy could have saved himself a lot of trouble if he stuck some mercury labels on his chemicals and observed proper mercury poisoning safety measures. In a film where there are talking cats and cards, we simply can’t accept the Mad Hatter’s lack of workplace protocol. Secondly, why is Alice downing a bottle of liquid that is simply labelled with “Drink me”? – there’s something wrong with that girl.

In order to stop life becoming as topsy-turvy, dangerous Hollywood film, trust Label Source to keep things in line. We have a 25-year pedigree in the industry, meaning we have an extensive range of health and safety signs. In addition, follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest health and safety news.

thermal transfer label uses

In simple terms, a thermal transfer label is a label that is transferred via an ink ribbon, with one side of the label coated in either wax, resin or a mixture of both depending on desired quality. The material is coated with a print receptive film suitable for the accepting wax, wax/resin and resin ink ribbons.

Thermal transfer printers are suitable for desktop, on-demand printing. They come in a range of different materials (vinyls, polyesters etc), suitable as waterproof and equipment labels. Paper labels are favoured in packaging and shipping.

In essence, it is a faster and cleaner process than direct thermal printing, hence its mainstay in so many industries.

What is Thermal Transfer Printing?

Thermal transfer labels are converted by using thermal transfer printers, label stock and thermal ribbons. When a thermal transfer label passes through a thermal print head, the heat from the printer causes the ink ribbon to bind off the film and on to the surface the film it is attached to.

Wax is the cheapest film available but it is not scratch or chemical resistant (and is usually used on paper). Wax/resin is the mid-range option offering scratch resistance but not chemical resistance. Resin is the crème de la crème of thermal transfer labels, boasting both scratch and chemical resistance and tends to be used for the more difficult environments.

The advantages of thermal printing are its relative speed and lack of downtime. Direct transfer printing is seen as much more environmentally damaging and time-intensive, so the extra cost of thermal transfer labels pays dividends due to savings in time and efficiency.

Uses for Thermal Transfer Labels

Despite the lack of knowledge about thermal transfer labels, they are a common item for many people in the modern world. However, in a world where there appears to be countless labels, what are thermal transfer labels actually “good” at? Principally, thermal transfer labels are used most in the following industries:

  • Shipping – Every box that is shipped professionally will use a thermal transfer label. The printing process can quickly and clearly print barcodes, invoices, and shipping addresses, making them an ideal companion in the busy world of shipping.
  • Equipment labels – Used in the automotive, engineering, aerospace, and medical equipment industries.
  • Short-run demand – Excels for short-run requirements thanks to its quick set up and easy use. Thermal transfer labels are preferred in workspaces with many changes in information such as equipment models, serial numbers, and electricity voltages.
  • Pharmaceuticals – Pharmaceutical packaging needs to adhere to strict rules regarding its labelling of products. Each label needs to express information such as expiry dates, batch numbers, dosages, and any other associate prescription information. Putting all this information on one label is time-consuming, hence why producers opt for the speed and guaranteed quality of thermal transfer labels.
  • Quality Control Labels – Uses in quality control and assembly lines are also popular. Thermal transfer labels are usually produced at specific manufacturing quality control points. This, via barcodes, keeps track of products and assures they are being evaluated safely. As a customer-facing tool, quality control thermal transfer labels can convey important safety information to the customer, including the serial number, model number, contact numbers, etc.
  • Food Packaging – Thermal transfer labels can assure food packing fits proper specifications and stays aesthetically pleasing. The quality of the labels ensures they remain neat and tidy to the eye, plus their properties lend themselves well to a variety of artistic designs and typographies, allowing brands to personalise to their heart’s content.
  • Barcoding and price tagging – Thermal transfer labels are the preferred material for barcodes. Barcoding allows stores and businesses to track orders and stock while also providing an essential blanket of security. Every product needs to be tagged with a barcode, price, colour, style, materials, etc.

Overall, thermal transfer labels, thanks to their thermal transfer ribbon, have revolutionised the way people approach several of the most important industries at the heart of commercial trade.

It pays to have good labels and Label Source has stocked the best in thermal transfer labels. For more from the ever-changing world of labels, be sure to follow Label Source on Facebook and Twitter.

what is a GHS label

The globally harmonised system (GHS) is a successful attempt by the UN to regulate all chemicals via proper labelling and signposting across borders. Currently, it supersedes EU classification standards, so it’s essential that if you or your business handles chemicals they comply with GHS standards.

What is a GHS Label?

A GHS label is, in layman’s terms, a mechanism that ensures chemicals are labelled safely and convey the right information quickly. A GHS label is simultaneously a warning to prevent injury and an action plan if injury has occurred. Other details include storage and disposal protocols. In essence, GHS labels are a comprehensive but brief review of all safety aspects related to the chemical in question.

What is On a GHS Label?

A GHS label is easily identifiable. The label must contain the following six identifiers to pass as a GHS label:

  • Product Identifier – Placed on the upper-left side of the label, this identifies the chemical with an appropriate term, including chemical name, code number and/or batch number.
  • Signal Word – Signal words come in two forms: “Danger” and “Warning”. The more severe of these is “Danger”, so it is reserved for potentially life-changing chemicals.
  • Hazard Statements – This describes the nature and degree of the hazard.
  • Precautionary Statements – All GHS labels should come with precautionary statements, including a method of minimising exposure, an action plan of what to do in case of exposure, storage information and information relating to proper disposal.
  • Supplier Information – Name, address and telephone number of the chemical manufacturer.
  • Pictograms – Standardised pictograms consisting of a red border with appropriate pictograms for the hazard. Multiple pictograms can be used on any one label.

Uses for GHS Labels

GHS labels are utilised anywhere where chemicals are used. Whether it’s a professional lab, a cleaning company, or a factory floor, if chemicals are there, then there needs to be GHS labels in place. They are pushed as the gold standard by the UN for a reason – they reduce workplace accidents and help save lives.

Label Source has a 25-year pedigree in the industry, meaning we have an extensive range of GHS labels and pictograms. In addition, follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest health and safety news.