Many have asked how the OSHA HazCom2012 classification numbers, which are inverse in severity from 704 rating numbers, would impact NFPA 704 and whether or not the rating system in NFPA 704 would be changed during the next revision cycle. The newly released 2017 edition of NFPA 704 addresses this concern and provides the user with the rationale for maintaining the current emergency response system. A new Annex G has been added to the standard that explains why the ratings remain the same and compares NFPA 704 to OSHA HazCom 2012.
To summarize, OSHA and NFPA are in agreement that there are differences between HazCom 2012 and NFPA 704 with two distinct set of numbers developed for different purposes. HazCom 2012 uses a hazard classification system whereas NFPA 704 uses a hazard rating system. The NFPA 704 label has been used for over 50 years and was developed to provide a simple, readily recognized and easily understood system of markings to provide information in a concise manner to emergency personnel responding to a spill or fire.
In comparison, OSHA’s hazard classification system provides information for workers exposed to materials primarily under normal conditions of use. The numbers that are part of the OSHA HazCom 2012 hazard classification system are required in Section 2 of the new SDS format. These numbers are then used to determine the correct pictograms, signal words and hazard statements for container labels but the numbers themselves are not required to be posted on labels.
For further information you can view the 2017 edition of NFPA 704 by creating a free email account www.nfpa.org/704. You will also be able to download two free documents including a, “NFPA/OSHA Comparison" Quick Card and an updated “Frequently Asked Questions" document.