From: Peter Zavon <pzavon**At_Symbol_Here**>
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] GHS Classification vs NFPA/HMIS
Date: Tue, 18 Feb 2014 23:08:35 -0500
Reply-To: DCHAS-L <DCHAS-L**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU>
Message-ID: 00c901cf2d28$43077e20$c9167a60$**At_Symbol_Here**

runningThe GHS system is derived, in part from the hazardous materials transportation labeling system, but it is not designed for that function.


When GHS was being developed as a system to be globally accepted, one of the necessary political agreements was that it would not incorporate whole any of the systems currently in use.  That way no country or region would spend time lobbying for complete adoption of their system.  The result was that everyone had to accept some changes in the way they were doing business.


For the US/North America, running the hazard classes opposite to what we were used to in NFPA was a part of our contribution to “no one gets to keep everything the way it was.”


In the transportation system, the number in the bottom of the diamond is the Hazard Class (equivalent to flammable liquid, corrosive, etc), not an indication of the degree of hazard.  Having GHS put a number there for degree of hazard would be so incompatible with the transportation labels as to cause real and dangerous confusion.  I can’t see that happening.



Peter Zavon, CIH
Penfield, NY




From: DCHAS-L Discussion List [mailto:dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU] On Behalf Of Daniel Crowl
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 12:49 PM
Subject: Re: [DCHAS-L] GHS Classification vs NFPA/HMIS


The problem arises from the fact that the NFPA numbers are really designed for firefighters during an emergency fire situation.  The GHS system is designed for transportation hazards. 


I don't think the two can be unified since the design basis is different.


I prefer the NFPA system because it is easy to recognize and I'm too old to change.


Dan Crowl

Michigan Tech University


On Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 10:22 AM, Hopkins, Ron <Ron.Hopkins**At_Symbol_Here**> wrote:

I have presented several GHS presentations and from my analysis of the degree of hazard, I have equated the exclamation mark would come closer to being a 1 or 2 based on the hazards:

  • Irritant (skin and eye)
  • Skin Sensitizer
  • Acute Toxicity (harmful)
  • Narcotic Effects
  • Respiratory Tract Irritant

The only one that causes some issues for me is how to quantify "Acute Toxicity" with the modifier (harmful). Key to the numerical value that you would like to utilize, the specific product has to be included in the decision process.


Now, looking at Health Hazard  and the terminology used in that category:


  • Carcinogen
  • Mutagenicity
  • Reproductive Toxicity
  • Respiratory Sensitizer
  • Target Organ Toxicity
  • Aspiration Toxicity

Based on the terminology used in this category, I would utilize 3 or 4. Again, the specific product would still have to be considered.


Then, the skull and crossbones, I think that would be a  4.


  • Acute Toxicity (fatal or toxic)

Lastly, I am not sure that an employer could not utilize some of the components of the NFPA/HMIS system in the warning process. OSHA standards only identify the minimum requirements. If you labeling system contains all of the items prescribed by OSHA, the employer can always opt for a system that exceeds the minimum.


Just a different thought and perspective.



Ron Hopkins, CFEI, CFPS, F-IAFI

Associate Professor (Retired)

Fire and Safety Engineering Technology

123 Redwood Drive

Richmond, KY 40475-8538


From: DCHAS-L Discussion List <dchas-l**At_Symbol_Here**MED.CORNELL.EDU> on behalf of Williams, Mark <Mark.Williams**At_Symbol_Here**TELEDYNEES.COM>
Sent: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 9:52 AM
Subject: [DCHAS-L] GHS Classification vs NFPA/HMIS


Hello DCHAS Members,

I have just given our second GHS Haz Comm training and the discrepancy between the numerical GHS hazard classification system and that of NFPA/HMIS is fresh in my mind.


I regard this as a noteworthy tragedy because having at our disposal an instantly accessible, “visible across the room”, numerically quantified shorthand that gives us a quick reference for degree of hazard is a really good idea, and GHS has sort of put a torpedo in the NFPA/HMIS label without supplying a good alternative.


For the near term we might get away with continuing to use NFPA or HMIS stickers on container labels because the GHS classification categories do not appear there, so potential for confusion might be small, however as workers  become increasingly GHS sophisticated, the potential for confusion will increase quickly and become untenable in the very near future. Perhaps it already is. Certainly including NFPA/HMIS on the SDS is a source of confusion.


In a severely limited sense, the GHS pictograms do give a sort of tiered “visible across the room” semi-quantified shorthand to degree of hazard. The exclamation mark could be considered a 4 but it gives no indication of what the hazard is, and the presence of another pictogram could indicate a 3, 2 or 1, but with no further indication of degree of hazard. Extremely deficient!


The ideal solution in my view would be for NFPA and HMIS to withdraw from the fray, and to convert the GHS pictograms to a numerically tiered system by including the classification category at the bottom of each pictogram similar to the DOT label style. A 4 on the pictogram would take the place of the exclamation mark which would no longer be needed (and wasn’t that good of an idea to start with). The only pictogram that would need to be modified is the chronic toxicity pictogram as all the rest already have room for a number.


Less ideal, only because it unnecessarily introduces another label element, would be for NFPA and HMIS to change their numbering to the GHS system.


Even better would be to consolidate transportation and Haz Comm pictograms which would eliminate another source of confusion. Call me a dreamer J


I am interested in what others think about this issue.


Mark Williams



Teledyne Energy Systems, Inc.

38 Loveton Cir.

Sparks, MD 21152



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