The NFPA Hazard Rating System is also simply called the NFPA Ratings. This is a rating system used to indicate the health, flammability, reactivity and special hazards for many common chemicals. It uses the NFPA 704 Diamond to display hazard ratings for these four categories.
The following are definitions of the NFPA ratings for each of the four categories:
0 - No health hazard. No precautions are needed. An example of this type of substance would be tap water.
1 - Exposure will cause an irritation and result in minor residual injuries. An example of this type of substance would be acetone.
2 - This substance may be harmful if inhaled or absorbed. Intense or continued exposure might cause temporary incapacitation. There may be a residual injury even with treatment. An example of this type of substance would be ethyl ether.
3 - A short exposure may cause serious temporary or moderate residual injury even with prompt medical treatment. These materials are corrosive or toxic. Avoid skin contact or inhalation. An example is chlorine gas.
4 - A short exposure may result in death. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is required. These chemicals can penetrate ordinary rubber protective gear. Examples are hydrogen cyanide and carbon monoxide.
When establishing the health rating for an enclosure or room containing a number of substances, the greatest volume of one code determines the marking on the enclosure, unless there is a material with a more severe code that has a volume of 3 gallons or greater.
0 - Not combustible. The material will not burn in air when exposed to a temperature of 1,500 (F) for five minutes.
1 - Combustible when exposed to a temperature of 1,500 (F) for less than five minutes, or which has a flash point above 200 (F).
2 - Under normal ambient conditions this material does not form a hazardous atmosphere. Under high ambient temperatures or moderate heating, it will produce a hazardous atmosphere. These substances may be solids that readily give off hazardous gases, or liquids with a flash point above 100 (F) and below 200 (F).
3 - These are solids and liquids that can be ignited under ambient conditions. Liquids with this rating have a flash point below 100 (F). This rating also includes combustible dusts, fibrous solids and materials that have self-contained oxygen.
4 - Flammable gas or extremely flammable liquids. Materials which form explosive mixtures with air.
For an enclosure or room containing multiple substances, use the most severe rating code regardless of volume.
0 - Stable. Not reactive when mixed with water
1 - Caution. The substance that may react with water or if it is heated, but the reaction is not violent.
2 - Warning. These are substances that are normally unstable, but which require an initiating source of energy. Includes substances that react violently with water.
3 - Danger. These are substances that may be explosive if shocked or heated in confinement, or that react explosively with water.
4 - Danger. Explosive at normal temperatures and pressures.
For an enclosure or room containing multiple substances indicate the presence of any of the following regardless of the volume.
The following abbreviations are used in the white area of the NFPA 704 diamond. If an abbreviation is not used, it is recommended to put a dash in the white area to indicate there is no special information. Note that these are not part of the NFPA 704 standard, and the abbreviations and symbols may vary from facility to facility. The use of symbols or abbreviations such as these should be done in consultation with your local fire department.
OXY - Oxidizing agent
W - Reactive with water
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