It bothers me that in-sink food waste disposals usually have an on-off switch that looks identical to a light switch and is often within a set of light switches sharing a single wall plate.

How could I label the disposal's switch in an elegant way that:

  • warns everyone not to flip the switch (even people who don't know what a disposal is)
  • lets people (who know what a disposal is) know that this switch controls the disposal

I'd go for a simple colour differentiation. Anything other than white is clearly not a light switch. People generally understand that a Big Red Switch should not be used unless you know what it's for. And this kind of switch is easily purchased.red switch

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    Depending where you live, a switch like that means turning the water heater on, so after pressing it, you expect to have water on the closest sink or shower. – PatomaS Apr 7 '14 at 7:24

The biggest impact would be using a completely different switch style, one that says "I control heavy, violent machinery, not a little light bulb".

A big, round spring-loaded momentary-on switch with a safety cover and an icon indicating something being hacked to bits (not unlike the standard safety icons for "corrosive", "sharp", etc) would do the job.

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  • I like it! Good idea! – Ryan Dec 5 '16 at 23:14

I'm pretty impressed with these pictorial labels: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/307982546/switchid-know-which-switch-is-which/description

And for switches like a disposal (which involve a safety concern), I might also add a cover / guard like this: http://www.thingiverse.com/make:13815

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    At least as important as any other feature would be to require a spring-loaded "dead-man" switch that shuts off the motor when the switch is released. – MMacD Dec 2 '16 at 10:58

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