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There are many different types of labeling hazardous goods. Each has a distinct role to play, and it’s critical to understand the distinctions between them.
NFPA 704 is a standard for hazard identification that was developed to make emergency response decisions easier. It specifies a straightforward, readily recognized, simply understood method for identifying the particular hazards of a material and the degree of risk that would occur during an emergency response.
The system is designed to protect against short-term acute exposures from fires, spills, or other emergencies that may have health, flammability, instability, and specific threats.
The NFPA 704, also known as the “fire diamond,” has four quadrants. One side deals with human safety factors, while the other deals with environmental issues. The remaining two sides show how much water is required to put out each hazard type in one minute (one quart per square foot).
What are the advantages of NFPA 704?
Among others, we can say that using the fire diamond assists in:
- providing a timely alert to police and fire personnel who are involved in rescue operations
- fire and emergency response planning, including cleanup
- the identification and evaluation of hazards to all designated personnel through a facility inventory and assessment
When is NFPA 704 required?
NFPA 704 labels are required when a law says to put them on. NFPA 704 does not stipulate when a container, tank, or facility must be labeled with the 704 diamond. When another code, regulation, or an AHJ (Authority Having Jurisdiction) demands this type of labeling, it instructs you how to do so.
Some facilities choose to utilize the NFPA 704 placards even though they are not required to provide comprehensive information on the hazards of materials on site.
The Fire Code (NFPA 1), the Flammable and Combustible Liquids Code (NFPA 30), the Standard on Fire Protection for Laboratories Using Chemicals (NFPA 45), the Compressed Gases and Cryogenic Fluids Codes (NFPA 55), and the Hazardous Materials Code are just a few codes that require the use of the 704 labels.
How to display the fire diamond?
The NFPA diamond has been a recognized logo for decades, since its inception in 1960. The NFPA hazard diamond, often known as the “hazard diamond,” is a symbol used to display safety around hazardous or potentially dangerous chemicals or materials. It’s usually seen on building entrances, exterior walls, and storage areas. Even for the average person, the fire diamond is common on semi-trucks, propane tanks, train cars, and other locations where potentially dangerous things are kept or transported.
If the NFPA 704 diamond is required, an AHJ will determine where and how many it should be displayed. It must be apparent to any responders who may come upon it. On the other hand, there must be numerous signs on the outside of buildings in various locations or rooms. At the very least, there should be two placards next to each facility entrance/exterior storage area.
What do the colors in the fire diamond mean?
The following are the risks in terms of space: health at nine o’clock, flammability at twelve o’clock, and instability at three o’clock. They are also color-coded, in addition to the spatial orientation that may be utilized to distinguish the dangers.
Health Hazard (blue)
The left diamond is blue and symbolizes a person’s body being at risk. The health hazard number for a chemical indicates the degree to which it can harm individuals through inhalation, skin or eye contact, or ingestion. It does not account for the potential harm caused by fire or explosion, as well as prolonged long-term exposure.
The numbers mean the following precautions:
- 0 Poses no health hazard, no need for concern
- 1 Can cause significant irritation. For example, turpentine
- 2 temporary incapacitation or residual injury with this substance
- 3 Serious and permanent injuries
- 4 Lethal
Flammability Hazard (red)
The red diamond is the top one. It informs responders about a chemical’s flammability danger or the degree of material susceptibility to burning. The flashpoint is another key factor in this category that must be considered. The flashpoint value, for example, specifies when a substance will ignite spontaneously at room temperature.
The number is used for a variety of purposes:
- 0 Materials that do not burn under normal conditions.
- 1 Materials that must be heated for a long time, under all ambient temperature conditions, before ignition and combustion can take place are considered to be “preheating.”
- 2 Materials that can catch fire if they’re merely heated or exposed to a relatively high ambient temperature.
- 3 Materials that can be set on fire under a wide range of temperature conditions
- 4 Materials that will evaporate rapidly or totally at atmospheric pressure and normal room temperatures
It is in this hazard type, that many of our customers find the most use for our tools for use in explosive environments.
Instability Hazard (yellow)
When looking at the NFPA fire diamond, yellow is for chemicals with high levels of instability. These numbers detail how susceptible materials react in various environments and can help you determine if they require caution while responding to an incident or spill. Responding personnel will use this number to determine if an area shall be evacuated or the fire fought from a protected location.
The numbers in the yellow quadrant mean:
- 0 Materials that are typically stable and non-reactive with water under fire conditions
- 1 Materials that are considered stable under normal conditions, but may become dangerous or even combustible at higher temperatures or pressures
- 2 Materials that undergo strong chemical changes at high temperatures or pressures, and can produce an exploding mixture with water
- 3 Materials that can explode or decompose violently yet require a substantial triggering agent. They must be heated under confinement before they can be triggered. They are also quite sensitive to water and will detonate if severely shocked.
- 4 Materials that can explode when they are at normal temperatures and pressures
Special Hazards (white)
This color is only used for distinct substances. Some of the most commonly used chemicals are:
- OX – Oxidizer
- W – Reacts with water
- SA – Simple asphyxiant gases (nitrogen, neon)
It’s never a smart idea to think that something will be plainly labeled. The NFPA has a diamond and each of the four quadrants has a distinct meaning. There are numerous types of hazardous materials in your workplace. Before they handle them, make sure that employees have the appropriate training. When it comes to safety, the Fire Diamond’s code may be the most important one to follow.