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The National Fire Protection Association, NFPA , a private non-profit organization, is the leading authoritative source of technical background, data, and consumer advice on fire protection, problems and prevention. The primary goal of NFPA is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating scientifically-based consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.

NFPA has over codes worldwide which are for sale through their web site. These codes cover every conceivable topic including basic fire safety, the National Electrical Code , and life safety. These codes are developed and updated through an open process, ensuring their broad acceptance. What do the numbers and symbols on an NFPA fire diamond mean?

The diamond is broken into four sections. Numbers in the three colored sections range from 0 least severe hazard to 4 most severe hazard. Both have four sections colored blue, red, yellow and white. Some employers use hybrids of the two systems. OSHA permits one to use any labeling system as long as it meets their labeling performance requirements. Thus, if you use a hybrid system at your location, your employees must be properly trained in using it and be made aware of these potential conflicts.

The exact guidelines by which you can place a chemical in one of these four categories are available in the NFPA standard see Further Reading below. OSHA has said " OSHA does not endorse specific services or products. It would, therefore, be inappropriate for OSHA to require a particular labeling system's code on the material safety data sheet. Store your aerosol cans safely with flammable storage safety cabinets from Safety Emporium. For the most part, this harmonized labeling system makes alternate labeling systems such as HMIS obsolete or redundant, however, NFPA information is nice to have as local fire codes may require signage on tanks, doors and other workplace locations.

We have emphasized the last part of that statement. Given that NFPA ranks 1 as low and 4 as high hazard whereas the HCS ranks 1 as high and 4 as low, it seems exceedingly likely that even trained employees will be confused if both systems are in simultaneous use, particularly at multi-employer workplaces. For example, using the two systems at the same time could result in a label with an NFPA flammability rating of 4 but a required GHS flammability classification of 1 on the same label!

Therefore, we strongly discourage employers from using the NFPA system in workplace labeling unless legally required under local fire codes given the potential for confusion with the mandatory OSHA hazard classification and categorization system. At the same time, emergency first responders might like to have this information, so it makes sense for manufacturers to put NFPA ratings on the SDS as long as the difference in this rating system vs GHS is made abundantly clear.

See also: combustible , flammable , health hazard , smoke. Additional definitions from Google and OneLook. Entry last updated: Saturday, February 29, This page is copyright by ILPI. Unauthorized duplication or posting on other web sites is expressly prohibited. Send suggestions, comments, and new entry desires include the URL if applicable to us by email. Disclaimer : The information contained herein is believed to be true and accurate, however ILPI makes no guarantees concerning the veracity of any statement.

Use of any information on this page is at the reader's own risk. ILPI strongly encourages the reader to consult the appropriate local, state and federal agencies concerning the matters discussed herein. Find all of your laboratory and workplace safety supplies at Safety Emporium! Glossary Index. Very short exposure could cause death or serious residual injury even though prompt medical attention was given.

Short exposure could cause serious temporary or residual injury even though prompt medical attention was given. Intense or continued exposure could cause temporary incapacitation or possible residual injury unless prompt medical attention is given. Exposure could cause irritation but only minor residual injury even if no treatment is given. Exposure under fire conditions would offer no hazard beyond that of ordinary combustible materials.

Will rapidly or completely vaporize at normal pressure and temperature , or is readily dispersed in air and will burn readily. Readily capable of detonation or of explosive decomposition or reaction at normal temperatures and pressures.

Capable of detonation or explosive reaction, but requires a strong initiating source or must be heated under confinement before initiation, or reacts explosively with water. Normally unstable and readily undergo violent decomposition but do not detonate. Also: may react violently with water or may form potentially explosive mixtures with water. Normally stable, but can become unstable at elevated temperatures and pressures or may react with water with some release of energy , but not violently.

Prior to , this section was titled "Reactivity". The name was changed because many people did not understand the distinction between a "reactive hazard" and the "chemical reactivity" of the material. The numeric ratings and their meanings remain unchanged. This section is used to denote special hazards. There are only three NFPA approved symbols:.

This denotes gases which are simple asphyxiants. Under the and earlier editions of NFPA the only gases for which this symbol was explicitly permitted were nitrogen, helium, neon, argon, krypton, and xenon.

The edition now current , the symbol can also be used for liquified carbon dioxide vapor withdrawal systems or areas where large amounts of Dry Ice are used in confined spaces.

The use of this hazard symbol appears to be optional. Unusual reactivity with water. This indicates a potential hazard using water to fight a fire involving this material. Some organizations use other symbols, abbreviations, and words in the white Special Hazards section. This indicates that the material is an acid , a corrosive material that has a pH lower than 7.

This denotes an alkaline material, also called a base. These caustic materials have a pH greater than 7. This denotes a material that is corrosive it could be either an acid or a base. The skull and crossbones is used to denote a poison or highly toxic material. The international symbol for radioactivity is used to denote radioactive hazards; radioactive materials are extremely hazardous when inhaled.

Indicates an explosive material. This symbol is somewhat redundant because explosives are easily recognized by their Instability Rating.


NFPA 704 Custom Hazmat Diamonds

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What is this information? Department of Transportation hazard labels, and a general description of the chemical. Flammability 1 Must be preheated before ignition can occur. Instability 0 Normally stable, even under fire conditions. Very white crystalline solid that becomes pink on exposure to light if not completely pure. Burns although ignition is difficult.

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