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|HMIS® - Hazardous Materials Identification System|
Get these super-sticky HMIS-style labels, signs, posters and more at SafetyEmporium.com.
Alas, the system is proprietary and the NPCA has apparently awarded exclusive rights for HMIS® products and services to a handful of vendors. In our opinion, this is a totally unacceptable arrangement that runs counter to the facile dissemination of health and safety information. More importantly, because the HMIS® numeric hazard ranking scale is the reverse of the one that OSHA requires under HCS 2012, the chance of worker confusion, conceivably with lethal consequences, is quite high. For these and additional reasons, we now discourage use of the HMIS® system.
Note the following:
Some employers use hybrids of the two systems. For example, they will use an NFPA hazard diamond, but the white section is used to denote both personal protective equipment (PPE) and/or special hazards. The NPCA and NFPA both discourage the mixing of the two systems in this manner. 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.
HMIS® labels can appear in a variety of formats. Some will include additional spaces to list target organ effects, a labeling requirement under 29 CFR 1910.1200, and other information, but the four colored areas shown here will always be present.
An older style HMIS® label is shown below on the left. In the April 2002 release of HMIS® III the yellow Reactivity section was replaced with an orange Physical Hazard section as shown below on the right. Other aspects of the system were also changed (see below).
NPCA recommends upgrading your older HMIS labels.
|4||Life-threatening, major or permanent damage may result from single or repeated overexposures.|
|3||Major injury likely unless prompt action is taken and medical treatment is given.|
|2||Temporary or minor injury may occur.|
|1||Irritation or minor reversible injury possible.|
|0||No significant risk to health.|
|4||Flammable gases, or very volatile flammable liquids with flash points below 73 °F, and boiling points below 100 F. Materials may ignite spontaneously with air. (Class IA) .|
|3||Materials capable of ignition under almost all normal temperature conditions. Includes flammable liquids with flash points below 73 °F and boiling points above 100 °F, as well as liquids with flash points between 73 °F and 100 °F. (Classes IB & IC).|
|2||Materials which must be moderately heated or exposed to high ambient temperatures before ignition will occur. Includes liquids having a flash point at or above 100 °F but below 200 °F. (Classes II & IIIA).|
|1||Materials that must be preheated before ignition will occur. Includes liquids, solids and semi solids having a flash point above 200 °F. (Class IIIB).|
|0||Materials that will not burn.|
|Reactivity (HMIS® I and II - now obsolete)|
|Physical Hazard (HMIS® III)|
|4||Materials that are readily capable of explosive water reaction, detonation or explosive decomposition, polymerization, or self-reaction at normal temperature and pressure.|
|3||Materials that may form explosive mixtures with water and are capable of detonation or explosive reaction in the presence of a strong initiating source. Materials may polymerize, decompose, self-react, or undergo other chemical change at normal temperature and pressure with moderate risk of explosion.|
|2||Materials that are unstable and may undergo violent chemical changes at normal temperature and pressure with low risk for explosion. Materials may react violently with water or form peroxides upon exposure to air.|
|1||Materials that are normally stable but can become unstable (self-react) at high temperatures and pressures. Materials may react non-violently with water or undergo hazardous polymerization in the absence of inhibitors.|
|0||Materials that are normally stable, even under fire conditions, and will not react with water, polymerize, decompose , condense, or self-react. Non-explosives.|
|HMIS® Letter||Required Equipment|
|L through Z||Site-specific label. Ask your supervisor or safety specialist for handling instructions|
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NOTE: NFPA and other labeling codes (such as HMIS®) are NOT required by OSHA. 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." (see this official OSHA interpretation). OSHA does have specific labeling requirements that must be fulfilled, but there is no specified format or code system required.|
This handy poster explains the common hazardous chemical labeling systems. Get yours at Safety Emporium.
OSHA's adoption of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) as part of the 2012 revision of the Hazard Communication Standard (29 CFR 1910.1200) changed container labeling requirements to include specific elements including pictograms, hazard statements, precautionary statements and a signal word. For the most part, this harmonized labeling system makes HMIS obsolete or redundant. NFPA 704 information is still nice to have as local fire codes may require 704 signage on tanks, doors and other workplace locations.
In a 2013 interpretation letter, OSHA confirmed that SDS authors may include HMIS and NFPA ratings in Section 2 of the SDS
so long as the ratings in the HMIS label do not contradict or cast doubt on the validity of label information required by HCS 2012 (C.3.1) or impede the user's ability to identify the information required by HCS 2012 (C.3.2).
We have emphasized the last part of that statement. Given that HMIS 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. Therefore, we strongly discourage employers from using the HMIS system given the potential for confusion with the mandatory OSHA hazard classification and categorization system.
See also: combustible, flammable, health hazard, smoke
Additional definitions from Google and OneLook.
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