A Look at “Hazards Not Otherwise Classified” (HNOCs)

In this article:

  • An in-depth look at ‘hazards not otherwise classified.’

With the incorporation of GHS into WHMIS, and the subsequent creation of the new WHMIS 2015 legislation, many new hazard categories – both physical and health – have been introduced. At the same time, several hazard categories defined under WHMIS 1988 remain the same.

One of the new physical and health hazard categories – and perhaps the most confusing when dealing with labeling of hazardous materials – is “hazards not otherwise classified” (HNOCs). In this installment, we will introduce you to this hazard category and break it down to the basic elements you need to know.

 

Hazards not otherwise classified – What does it mean?

“Hazards not otherwise classified” pertain to both physical and health hazards, and describes the dangers of exposure that do not clearly fit into one of the official hazards defined under official GHS guidelines.  It was introduced as an answer to the need for all hazardous material to be identified as such – and fills the gap of potential risks that do not fit into one of the pre-existing categories.  

It is a requirement of WHMS 2015 that any product classified in this class must include a description of the nature of the hazard on the product’s label and SDS.

 

 

Physical hazards not otherwise classified – WHMIS 2015

Under WHMIS 2015 legislation, “physical hazards not otherwise classified” are defined as any materials that “have the characteristic of occurring by chemical reaction and result in the serious injury or death of a person at the time the reaction occurs.” An example of this may be a thermal hazards.

 

Health hazards not otherwise classified – WHMIS 2015

Under WHMIS 2015 legislation, “health hazards not otherwise classified” are defined as “hazards that have the characteristic of occurring following acute or repeated exposure and have an adverse effect on the health of a person exposed to it – including an injury or resulting in the death of that person.” An example of this may be a lachrymator – something that causes tearing (watering of the eyes), but doesn’t officially come under GHS.

 

 

Pictograms

Under both GHS and WHMIS legislation, every hazard class is identified by a corresponding pictogram, used to illustrate the specific hazard. As “hazards not otherwise classified” cannot be placed into one of the hazard classes, there will be no corresponding pictogram. It is up to you to use the appropriate pictograms for the product, based on what the specific hazard of the material is.