Pipe Marking Tips that Could Improve Workplace Safety
For many facilities the only thing they think about when it comes to pipe marking is whether or not they are in compliance with the required standards from organizations such as ANSI and ASME. While this may be sufficient to get you in compliance, it is not the easiest, safest or most effective way to manage your pipe marking standards in your facility.
By making a well thought out plan of action you can help to make sure your facility is always kept up to date with the latest standards as well as ensuring your facility is as safe as possible when it comes to your pipes. Taking a moment to learn some proven tips and tricks regarding pipe markings will help your facility avoid waste, improve safety and in the long run, increase your bottom line.
Why Proper Pipe Marking is Important
The first thing you’ll need to do when considering your facilities pipe marking strategies is to make sure you and other key members of your team understand just how important it can be. The following are some essential benefits you will enjoy from having a well thought out pipe labeling procedure in place:
- Improved Safety – Of course, safety is the most important advantage. By properly labeling your pipes everyone will be able to quickly see all the important information about the pipe that they need. This can help maintenance workers, emergency responders and those who access the contents of the pipes on a regular basis.
- Reduced Waste – When people are able to quickly see all the information they need about a pipe it will eliminate wasted time and effort. They won’t have to go look this information up or ask others for what they need.
- Future Proofing – As all facility managers know, safety standards and regulations are constantly changing and updating. By having a good pipe marking strategy in place you will be prepared for any future changes to the standards that are required, which can help you to avoid problems.
So, with these key benefits and many others, you can see why it is so important to have an effective pipe marking strategy in place. The following tips and tricks can help you to create and implement that strategy and keep your facilities’ pipes properly labeled at all times.
Following Recommended Standards
While there are some strict standards in place from government and private agencies, many of the standards today are technically voluntary. Some companies see this to mean they can come up with their own standards rather than following these recommended standards. While that may legally be true, it is not a good idea.
Following the recommended standards for things like coloring and letter sizes will not only help ensure your facility is in compliance should these recommendations become required, but it will also improve safety. When you hire someone from a company that has been following the recommended standards, for example, they will already be used to the way your facility operates. This can help to avoid safety problems and reduce the training that is needed.
Using Custom Labels
There are many places that sell pre-made pipe marking labels that you can use to get many of the labels you need. While this is an option that can work in some limited cases, these pre-printed labels often take a while to arrive and may not be exactly what you need.
Even if they meet the specific requirements from the standards organization, they often don’t have the exact information that you would like in your facility. Having an industrial label printer (similar to this one) on site will allow you to create custom labels that will meet the standards requirements, while also allowing you to add additional information you feel is important.
Of course, having the ability to print your own labels on site will also ensure you never have to wait for orders to arrive from a third party. This will allow you to label pipes as they are installed or replace damaged labels immediately, which can improve the overall safety of your facility.
Using Moisture, Heat and Cold Tolerant Labels
Another advantage of printing your own labels in your facility is that you can choose the proper label stock for the specific pipes that you’ll be marking. Standard labels from most third party printers are good for normal pipe markings, but there may be cases when they don’t work very well.
If a pipe is being used to transport very hot liquids, for example, it could make the adhesive on the label ineffective and cause it to come off far earlier than it should. For pipes exposed to very cold temperatures, some labels can get brittle and crack. If a pipe is in an area with high humidity, the labels often don’t stick to the pipes very well.
Having the option to use specialized label stock will ensure each label is going to last as long as possible for the given requirements. This can reduce the frequency that you need to replace the labels and also improve the overall safety of your pipe marking strategy.
Establish an Inspection and Cleaning Schedule
Most pipes in facilities are located in out of the way locations. Either high up in the rafters or behind machinery or in other hard to reach places. In addition, many of the labels that are put on the pipes really aren’t seen very often, even if they are very important when people do look at them.
The problem many facilities run into is that when someone actually needs to be able to read the labels, they are too damaged or dirty to easily make out. This can cause delays and dangers to the individuals working on or with the pipes. These dangers are what the pipe markings were supposed to avoid in the first place.
This is why your facility should have a pipe marking inspection and cleaning schedule. Depending on the environment in your facility, you could have someone inspect each label once per year to make sure it is not damaged or covered with dirt or grease. This will ensure that when people actually need to see a label, it will be visible to them.
Identify the Location of all Pipes
Many facilities have miles of piping going throughout their facility. In order to ensure the pipes are in good shape and the labeling is not dirty or damaged, it is important to know where all the pipes go and where the labels are located.
Having a central document or map of the piping in your facility is very important. Keeping it up to date is equally important, so make sure you modify it every time a new pipe or even a new label is put in place. This will help ensure they are properly maintained and safe at all times.
Proper Label Placement
When you are labeling pipes many facilities just print and place the labels wherever the person doing the job feels they should go. In reality, however, there are a number of important factors that need to be considered. While each situation is unique, here are some important tips and tricks specifically associated with where the labels should be placed on your pipes.
- Facing the Viewer – Place the labels on a location that is going to be facing the most likely viewer. If a pipe is near a catwalk, for example, the label should be positioned so it can be read easily by anyone on that catwalk. If necessary, use two labels to ensure it can be seen by everyone who needs it.
- Distance Between Labels – Many pipes are very long so having multiple labels is important. Placing labels close enough to each other so that they can be seen can help ensure nobody is ever to far away to be able to benefit from the information on the label.
- Both Sides of Obstructions – If a pipe goes through a wall or another obstruction, make sure to put one label on each side so that no matter where people are standing, they can see the label.
- Near Direction Changes – If a pipe changes direction it is a good idea to have a label on the pipe where it approaches the change as well as on the other side of the change. These labels should have arrows on them indicating which direction the contents of the pipe will flow.
Creating a Pipe Marking Strategy that Works
Whether you follow the above tips and tricks or you come up with your own systems, the most important thing is that you find a good pipe marking strategy that will work for your facility. When done properly, your facility will operate more safely and efficiently than ever before.
Remember, however, that just having a policy in place is not enough. You need to make sure you get everyone on board with the strategy and ensure they are properly trained to benefit from it. This will take some time and effort, but in the long run it will be well worth it.