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HMIS® III - Hazardous Materials Identification System

Free Download of the HMIS® Documentation:

HMIS® documentation is available for FREE download on the JJ Keller & Associates' web site. The documents available are:

  • HMIS® III Implementation Manual, Third Edition
  • HMIS® III: An Employee's Guide to the HMIS, Third Edition - English & Spanish
  • HMIS® III Chemical Ratings Guide, Third Edition
  • HMIS® III Ratings Instruction Guide, Third Edition
  • HMIS® Implementation Manual, Second Edition
  • HMIS®: An Employee's Guide to the HMIS, Second Edition
  • HMIS® Ratings Instruction Guide, Second Edition

To download your free documentation visit All other support HMIS® materials (HMIS® Labels, Posters, Wallet Cards, etc.) are available for a fee.


Aerosol Flammability Rating Criteria

HMIS® III Flammability Rating Criteria for Aerosols.

The American Coatings Association, Inc. (ACA) developed the Hazardous Materials Identification System (HMIS®) to aid employers in the implementation of an effective Hazard Communication Program. The Third version of this system, HMIS® III, offers comprehensive resources covering hazard assessment, hazard communication, and employee training. HMIS® III Hazard Assessment helps define the Health, Flammability and Physical Hazards of different chemicals, and shows how to communicate those hazards with a label that incorporates color-coded fields, along with a recommendation for personal protective equipment.

Historically, there has been no good method for determining the degree of flammability when rating aerosol products. HMIS® III Flammability Ratings range from 0 (Minimal Hazard) to 4 (Severe Hazard). When attempting to rate an aerosol product users found that the criteria offered did not fit well. The result was that many HMIS® III users have rated aerosols based on the "catch-all" criteria under the Level 3 (Serious Hazard) Category which includes "materials that on account of their physical form or environmental conditions can form explosive mixtures with air and that are readily dispersed in air, such as dusts of combustible solids and mists of flammable or combustible liquid droplets".

ACA's Occupational Health and Safety Committee, which oversees HMIS® III, has developed new criteria for rating the flammability of aerosol products which draws directly from The National Fire Prevention Association’s Code for the Manufacture and Storage of Aerosol Products (NFPA 30B).

This supplement to the HMIS® III Implementation Manual is entitled “Flammability Criteria for Aerosol Products” and provides an important tool to HMIS® users who can use it to develop appropriate ratings for their aerosol products. This supplement should be used in conjunction with Chapter 7 of the HMIS® III Implementation Manual or Chapter 1 of the HMIS® III Ratings Instruction Guide to develop complete and meaningful Health, Flammability, and Physical Hazard ratings for aerosol products. The Document is provided for FREE as follows:

HMIS® III Flammability Criteria for Aerosol Products


HMIS® III is "Light Years Ahead"

ACA launched its third version of the HMIS® program --- HMIS® III, in November of 2001. Already, it is receiving great reviews.

The ACA Hazardous Materials Identification System (HMIS®) is a result of a unique effort on the part of health and safety managers in the chemical and coatings industries to combine their collective experiences to design a practical, effective warning system that ensured "recognition at a glance" of the hazard associated with materials used every day in industry. The ACA HMIS® program, warnings, and training have been the “Gold Standard” in the field.

ACA HMIS® III not only continues that stellar tradition – it improves upon it.

"Light years ahead" – that’s how a senior OSHA official characterized HMIS® III on first review. While OSHA obviously cannot officially endorse a particular consumer warning system, we nonetheless are very encouraged in this positive expression from a noted Federal professional in the field.

Twenty-five years ago, HMIS® was designed by health and safety professionals with decades of real world practical experience in the chemical and coatings industries. Today, ACA's HMIS® III incorporates improvements developed by a second generation of health and safety professionals based on over two decades of successful implementation of the HMIS®.


What is the most critical change to HMIS® III?

Physical Hazard:
The new HMIS® III provides employees the tools to understand and handle chemicals exhibiting a variety of physical hazards with a far greater degree of precision. Although "Reactivity" has provided useful information for the physical hazards encompassed in the OSHA Hazcom, HMIS® III now provides more information about a chemical's physical hazard(s). The specific physical hazards that the Hazcom addresses are flammability, compressed gases, explosives, organic peroxides, oxidizers, pyrophorics, unstable-reactive and water-reactive chemicals. The new HMIS® III not only specifically incorporates each hazard, with specific criteria to evaluate the degree of hazard, but permits employers to identify the hazard present with an icon or symbol. Under the new HMIS® III, a worker can know immediately, for example, that a material he is handling is rated as an explosive, and that it is rated as a "3," giving him or her much more precise and useful information about the safe handling of that material.


The new HMIS® III also provides users a wide variety of icons to enhance the utility of the NEW HMIS® III label. These new icons include not only the newly incorporated physical hazards, but also icons for target organs. Additionally, icons for PPE will continue to be a feature of HMIS® III under the new version.


What do the NEW HMIS® III Ratings Mean?

Many industry personnel see HMIS® III, or Second Edition HMIS®, ratings in MSDSs or on products with no explanation of what they mean. The manufacturers of these products have included the ratings as a customer service for those parties that are actively using HMIS® to comply with the requirements of the OSHA Hazard Communication Standard. Unfortunately, they have forgotten to include the cautionary statement as recommended in the HMIS® Implementation Manuals. As a service to those seeking this information an explanation of the ratings for each of the three categories of Health, Flammability, and Physical Hazards (and Reactivity in the Second Edition) for HMIS® III and HMIS® is provided in the following file: HMIS® Ratings. Please be advised that the first place a user should inquire about a specific rating or how the ratings were determined on a product is the author of the MSDS or the manufacturer of the product displaying the ratings. Additional information on determining the ratings are included as part of the HMIS® III Implementation Manual or the HMIS® III Ratings Instruction Guide.


What do the NEW HMIS® III PPE Codes Mean?


For more information on the NEW HMIS® III, take a look at the documents provided below:

General Information on the NEW HMIS® III (131.48 kB)

Frequently Asked Questions for the NEW HMIS® III

Transition Guide to the NEW HMIS® III (88.59 kB)



  All HMIS® materials for both the HMIS® III and the HMIS® Second Edition are now available from J.J. Keller & Associates, Inc. of Neenah, WI. Contact a J.J. Keller Sales Representative at 800-327-6868 or visit


For more information please contact ACA's  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  at (202) 462-6272.


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