Interpretability of Surround Shapes Around Safety Symbols: Cross-Cultural Differences Among Migrant Farmworkers

  • Giorgia Bagagiolo
  • Federica CaffaroEmail author
  • Lucia Vigoroso
  • Ambra Giustetto
  • Eugenio Cavallo
  • Margherita Micheletti Cremasco
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 824)


Risk communication based on safety signs is a fundamental component in high-hazard industries as agriculture, to prevent injuries. To make signs easily comprehensible by all users, the design of safety signs has been standardized in terms of color and shape to distinguish the different types of safety messages. Nevertheless, several studies demonstrated that individual characteristics as education, cultural background, and experience, can affect safety signs comprehension. Considering the increasing number of the migrant workforce in agriculture, especially in high-income countries, it is significant to investigate cross–cultural differences in safety signs interpretation. A sample of sixty migrants (Romanian n = 8; Indian n = 12; Pakistani n = 28; Gambian n = 12) employed in Italian farms was asked to associate four graphical symbols representing the main types of safety messages (mandatory, prohibition, warning, emergency), to the corresponding surround shape. With regard to geometric shape interpretation, the results showed that less than 50% of participants chose the standardized shape for warning (triangle), mandatory and prohibition (round) signs; while the majority of respondents assigned the emergency sign to the square shape. With regard to nationality, all the shape-symbol associations made by Romanians corresponded to the standardized ones, followed by Indians (52%), Pakistanis (43%) and Gambians (42%). No significant differences emerged either for the length of stay in Italy or for years of education. Results confirmed the role of national culture in safety signs interpretation and seem to show that only migrants from countries closer to the Western culture are more familiar with the meaning of standardized shapes.


Safety symbols Migrant farmworkers Risk communication 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Agricultural and Earthmoving Machines (IMAMOTER)National Research Council of Italy (CNR)TurinItaly
  2. 2.Department of Life Sciences and Systems BiologyUniversity of TorinoTurinItaly

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