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At first glance the hazard warning labels produced by HMIS and NFPA look similar. Both labeling systems use colors and numbers to alert workers to the hazards of the chemicals in the containers. But there are some important differences.
HMIS is a complete system designed to aid employers and their employees in day-to-day compliance with OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard. It includes hazard evaluations; a rating system for acute and chronic health, flammability, and physical hazards; labels providing at-a-glance information on the hazards and personal protective equipment; employee training; and a written compliance program. HMIS was developed by the American Coatings Association (ACA).
NFPA is a fire protection warning system for emergency responders designed to provide rapid, clear information on materials under conditions of fire, chemical spill, or other emergency situations. This labeling system was developed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Specifications for using this labeling system are found in NFPA® 704, Standard System for the Identification of the Hazards of Materials for Emergency Response. Like HMIS, the NFPA® 704 system uses labels and a numerical rating system, but the intended use of the label information is different.