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WHMIS: What You Need to Know
9. Hazard SymbolsThe WHMIS system groups hazardous materials into six classes or categories based on the type of hazard which they represent. These materials are also called controlled products. Each category has its own hazard symbol and it is important that the worker be able to recognize these.
A - COMPRESSED GAS
A compressed gas is a material which is a gas at normal room temperature (20 C) and pressure but is packaged as a pressured gas, dissolved gas or gas liquified by compression or refrigeration.
The hazard from these materials, aside from their chemical nature, arises from sudden loss of integrity of the container. A compressed gas cylinder is usually quite heavy and when ruptured can become a projectile with the potential to cause significant damage.
Acetylene and oxygen are examples of compressed gases.
B - FLAMMABLE AND COMBUSTIBLE MATERIAL
Flammable or combustible materials will ignite and continue to burn if exposed to a flame or source of ignition.
Materials are classified as a flammable gas, flammable aerosol, flammable liquid, combustible liquid, flammable solid, or reactive flammable material. Methane, acetone, aniline, and lithium hydride are examples of flammable materials.
C - OXIDIZING MATERIAL
An oxidizing material may or may not burn itself, but will release oxygen or another oxidizing substance, and thereby causes or contributes to the combustion of another material.
Ozone, chlorine, and nitrogen dioxide are oxidizing materials. These chemicals wil support a fire and are highly reactive.
D - POISONOUS AND INFECTIOUS MATERIALD1- Materials Causing Immediate and Serious Toxic Effects
These materials may be classified as toxic or very toxic based on information such as LD50 or LC50.
D2 - Materials Causing Other Toxic Effects
A pure substance or mixture that may be any one of the following: a carcinogen, teratogen, reproductive toxin, respiratory tract sensitizer, irritant or chronic toxic hazard.
D3 - Biohazardous Infectious Material
This classification includes any organisms and the toxins produced by these organisms that have been shown to cause disease or are believed to cause disease in either humans or animals. For example, a blood sample containing the Hepatitis B virus is a biohazardous infectious material. It may cause hepatitis in persons exposed to it.
E - CORROSIVE MATERIAL
Corrosive materials can attack (corrode) metals or cause permanent damage to human tissues such as the skin and eyes on contact. Burning, scarring, and blindness may result from skin or eye contact.
Corrosive materials may also cause metal containers or structural materials to become weak and eventually to leak or collapse.
Ammonia, fluorine, and hydrochloric acid are examples of corrosive substances.
F - DANGEROUSLY REACTIVE MATERIAL
Dangerously reactive materials may undergo vigorous polymerization, decomposition or condensation. They may react violently under conditions of shock or an increase in pressure or temperature. They may also react vigorously with water to release a toxic gas.
Ozone, hydrazine, and benzoyl peroxide are examples of dangerously reactive materials.
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