What is the NFPA diamond?

Most people have seen the NFPA diamond, even if they didn’t know that this is what it was called. The NFPA diamond is commonly seen on the backs of semi-trucks that are transporting potentially hazardous materials. This is a type of label that is designed to quickly convey basic information about the materials that are being transported. Anyone who works with, or is otherwise responsible for, hazardous materials needs to be able to understand what the NFPA diamond means.

Layout of the NFPA Diamond

The NFPA diamond is divided up into four sections, each of which area also shaped like a diamond. Each of these areas is then colored to represent a specific type of hazard. The left segment is colored blue, and is for all health related hazards. The top section is red and represents any fire related hazards. The right section is yellow and is for any materials that are unstable. Finally, the bottom section is set aside for ‘special’ hazards such as things like asphyxiant gasses, materials that react with water dangerously, and others.

NFPA Hazard Rating Levels

In addition to the different colors, the NFPA diamond also includes a rating system to alert people to the severity of the hazard that is present. The rating scale ranges from 0 to 4 for the blue, red, and yellow sections of the diamond. The white section doesn’t have this type of rating because each special hazard will have its own type of issues. When looking at the ratings zero represents no risk at all, and four represents extreme danger.

Requirements of the NFPA Diamond

This type of safety labeling was developed by the NFPA, which is not a governmental organization. This means that they cannot require any companies to follow the standards that they set. OSHA has, however, adopted the standards from the NFPA so companies based in, or operating in, the United States are required to use this type of safety labeling whenever they have hazardous materials.


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