Research Safety

Hazard/Safety Labels for Chemical Containers

All chemical containers must be labeled with the appropriate labeling system as follows:

Description of Hazard Categories and Rating Scale

The Hazard Category Color System shown below is used for our hazard labels. This system is based on the NFPA system. In each category square will appear a number ranging from 0 (for low level of risk) to 4 (for high level of risk). This rating system is based on the J.T. Baker Saf-T-Data © System.



The health category refers to the capability of the chemical compound to cause personal injury due to inhalation, skin contact, eye contact, or ingestion.



The flammability category refers to the compounds ability to create or sustain a fire.



The reactivity category refers to how reactive the compound is under normal laboratory conditions. Compounds that are likely to explode or react violently with air, water, or other common substances would be given a rating of 4, while extremely inert substances would be given a rating of 0.


The contact category refers to how dangerous physical contact with the compound is under normal laboratory conditions. Compounds that are likely to cause severe damage or death when in contact with skin, eyes, or mucous membranes have a contact hazard rating of 4.

Additional Rating Information

The above descriptions are for general conditions and do not cover all possibilities.

Take water as an example. Water has a health rating of zero and a contact rating of zero. However, a person could kill themselves by drowning, and boiling water or steam can be very dangerous with respect to physical contact. Therefore, under certain circumstances, water is deadly.

Similar analogies are possible for every chemical. This just emphasizes that a certain level of professional understanding and common sense is required when handling chemicals.