What are pipe labels and why are they necessary? Well, even though the use of pipe labels may seem like a minor detail in the grand scheme of running a warehouse or industrial work setting, they are actually an essential component needed to help ensure the safety of employees. Pipe labels are also often referred to as “pipe markings” and function just as they sound; they are labels or markings to identify the contents of exposed pipes within a facility. These labels are used regularly to distinguish which pipes contain harmful substances to those that do not, as well as pipes that may contain extreme temperatures or pressure. Knowing this information allows employees the opportunity to use extra caution and take proper safeguards when working around pipes that carry hazardous substances. The American National Standards Institute or ANSI is a non-profit organization that helps to oversee consensus standards within the realm of products, processes, and services within the US. ANSI also helps to certify standards established by groups or organizations regarding overall safety so both product and performance standards are consistent. Let’s take a look at some of the ANSI standards regarding the use of pipe labels.
ANSI Pipe Label Color Standards
Before 2007 ANSI separated above ground piping systems into three main categories, which were high-hazard materials, low-hazard materials, and fire suppression materials. In addition, they also regulated pipes through the use of four different colors to differentiate between the hazards. However, in 2007 the color coding system was enhanced and now features six colors to help distinguish between hazards.
The colors indicate contents as follows:
White lettering on red background: Fire-quenching fluids
Black lettering on orange background: Toxic and corrosive fluids
Black lettering on yellow background: Flammable fluids
White lettering on brown background: Combustible fluids
White lettering on green background: Potable, cooling, boiler feed and other water
White lettering on blue background: Compressed air
In addition to this regulated color scheme for pipe contents, ANSI also provided some other color combinations for labels that can be used and defined by the actual user. The use of the following color combinations is really up to the discretion of the business using them; however, the business should inform employees about these added color combinations and what each color combination indicates for that business.
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All pipe labels should be placed in easy-to-see areas on the pipes. For instance, if an employee is looking down upon a pipe, the label should be affixed to the top of the pipe so it can be seen immediately. In addition, the same goes for the other way around, if a pipe is above an employee, the pipe label should be affixed to the bottom side of the pipe so the employee needs to only look upward to clearly see the label. Furthermore, if the pipe is at the height level of employee the label should be affixed to the side for easy visual demarcation.