Training ScheduleTraining Calendar.png

Hazard Communication

There are Three common labeling schemes are used at UW Oshkosh:

1. Globally Harmonized System (GHS)

GHS labels are required on containers containing hazardous materials supplied by a manufacturer. The mandate to use these labels extends only to manufacturers, and shippers, not end users. UW Oshkosh employees are required to understand the hazards communicated by these labels. Existing chemical inventory does not need to be relabeled to comply with GHS. However, workplace containers must convey hazard information. While GHS labeling can be used on workplace containers, two other systems for labeling workplace containers are already in place and comply with OSHA HazCom requirements. Click here to learn more about GHS.

For information on the Hazard Codes and Precautionary Statements please click on the corresponding links. 

2. Hazardous Materials Identification System (HMIS III or HMIG)

HMIS III or HMIG labels may be used on workplace containers. Click here to learn more. 

3. National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)

NFPA labels may be used on workplace containers. Click here to learn more.

Differences in Hazard Classification Systems

You should be aware that the three labeling systems used on campus have been designed for different audiences. As such the way hazards are communicated differs slightly from system to system.

  • All three labeling systems, GHS, HMIS and NFPA use a numerical hazard rating system, HOWEVER:

In the GHS system LOWER number values indicate more severe hazards.  These numbers do not appear on labels, but they do appear in SDS.  In HMIS and NFPA classification, HIGHER numbers on labels indicate more severe hazards.  Be aware of the difference.

  • They differ in layout -- NFPA uses four diamonds, HMIG uses vertically stacked bars. GHS uses red bordered pictograms and signal words to convey hazards.
  • HMIS and NFPA differ in interpretation of the fourth, white field (special handling in the NFPA system; protective equipment in the HMIS system).
  • Possibly the most significant difference, however, has to do with the intended audience for each of the systems
      • The GHS system has been implemented to standardize the communication of hazard information internationally.  Its implementation is driven by both commercial and safety considerations.   As familiarity grows with this labeling system it may supplant the other systems of labeling for workplace labeling.
      • The HMIS (or HMIG) was devised as a tool to comply with the OHSA Hazard Communication Standard, and employees who must handle hazardous chemicals in the workplace are the intended audience.  The format of the labels is intended to quickly convey the relevant hazards and necessary handling precautions.
      • The NFPA system was designed to alert fire fighters arriving on the scene of a fire to the hazards associated with materials present at that location. Therefore, the numbers assigned in the NFPA system assume that a fire is present. No such assumption holds in the HMIG/HMIS system. For this reason, the numbers that are assigned to the flammability, health, and reactivity hazards may differ between the NFPA and HMIG systems, even for the exact same chemical.  Still, the labels are often used convey the hazards of a material in an easily recognizable manner.

Document Actions

The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh — Where Excellence and Opportunity Meet.