Product Specifications: Hazardous Materials Identification System

by Andy on April 2, 2012

Hazardous Chemical Label While some specifications look at the quality of a product, others give information on their hazards. The Hazardous Materials Identification System (HMIS) was developed by the American Coatings Association (ACA) to aid compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations (wow that is a lot of acronyms!).

Even though the HMIS helps comply with OSHA standards, it is not enough by itself for total compliance. The value of the HMIS is how it can easily convey information about a product at a glance. This way people working with a material can know what protection they may need to handle the material, as well as what kind of medical help is warranted if they are exposed to it.

There are four bars on the HMIS Label, and each one has its own code. The blue, red, and yellow bars each have a number between 0 and 4, the higher the number the more hazardous the material.

Blue – Health:

0: No significant risk to health

1: Some irritation or minor reversible injury

2: Temporary or minor injury

3: Major injury unless prompt medical treatment is given

4: Life threatening, major or permanent damage from repeated or single overexposure

Red – Flammability:

0: Will not burn

1: Must be preheated to burn, liquids, solids, and semi-solids with flash point above 200°F

2: Must be exposed to high ambient temperatures or moderately heated to burn, liquids with flash point between 100-200°F

3: Can be ignited at almost all temperature conditions, liquids with flash points between 73-100°F, as well as liquids with flash point below 73°F and boiling point above 100°F

4: Flammable gases, liquids with flash point below 73°F and boiling point below 100°, may ignite spontaneously with air

Yellow – Physical Hazard:

0: Non-explosives, normally stable

1: Normally stable, can become unstable at high pressures and temperatures

2. Unstable at normal temperatures, with low risk for explosion. May react violently with water

3: Unstable at normal temperatures, with moderate risk for explosion. May form explosive mixture with water

4: Unstable at normal temperatures, capable of explosive reaction with water

Hazardous Materials Identification System The white bar contains a letter that designates what sort of protective equipment is required to handle the materials. The chart to the left (click to enlarge) explains the meaning behind each letter.

For more specific information you can go the American Coatings Association webpage on the HMIS rating system. Do you have any more questions about this or other rating systems? Leave a comment below!

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