The piping in many facilities can get quite elaborate, with different pipes going in virtually every direction. The fact that each pipe is used to transport different solutions, makes it is absolutely essential that you follow pipe marking best practices in order to keep everyone safe.
It is not enough to simply have the pipe labeled right at the spout or faucet, though that is certainly a good start. You also need to make sure the rest of the pipe is clearly labeled so that people who are performing maintenance or other work on them will not have any issues knowing exactly what is contained within the pipes.
With that in mind, take some time to review the following 10 best practices for pipe marking, and double check to make sure your facility is up to speed.
10 Best Practices for Pipe Marking
Best Practice #1 – High Quality Labels
Labeling pipes is not an easy task. In most cases, these pipes are located quite high in the facility, so working on them comes with its own set of hazards. In addition, it can be time consuming and disruptive since you will need to use a ladder or lift to gain access to all the pipes.
With this in mind, you always need to make sure you are labeling your pipes with the highest quality label stock possible. Vinyl labels, for example, will stick well to the pipes and can last for years. If you are labeling a pipe that carries steam or hot liquids, you will want to make sure to choose pipe marking labels that are specifically designed for high temperature.
When you use the highest quality labels, you won’t have to replace them again for many years, which can help keep your facility safe and running smoothly.
Best Practice #2 – Standard Color Labels
It is always a good idea to follow the industry established guidelines for the color of the labels you use. ANSI has a color scheme that is largely used across all industries, which effectively makes it a best practice. Even if you are not legally required to follow this set of standards, it is a good idea because it will allow people to see what is in the pipes, even if they are new to the facility.
The following are the most common color options for specific types of solutions in pipes:
White text on red background is used for any fire-quenching fluids
Black text on orange background is used for all toxic or corrosive fluids
Black text on yellow background is used for all flammable fluids
White text on brown background is used for all combustible fluids
White text on green background is used for any potable, cooling or other water
White text on blue background is used for compressed air
While these are the standard options, and they will cover most situations, there are also several additional color options that are reserved for user-defined things. These colors are white text on purple background, white text on gray, white text on black and black text on white.
Best Practice #3 – Size of Labels
The fact that many pipes are quite high up can make it difficult to see any labels that are placed on them (which is one reason why the color standards above are so important). To make the labels as visible as possible, you want to make sure the labels are the proper size. The ANSI standards have become the industry best practices in this case as well, and can be seen here:
Pipes that are .75-1.25’’ in diameter need a label at least 8 inches long with letters .5 inches high.
Pipes that are 1.5-2’’ in diameter need a label that is at least 8 inches long with letters that are .75 inches high.
Pipes that are 2.5-6’’ in diameter need a label that is at least 12 inches long with letters that are 1.25 inches high.
Pipes that are 8-10’’ I diameter need a label that is at least 24 inches long with letters that are 2.5 inches high.
Pipes that are greater than 10’’ in diameter need a label that is at least 32 inches long with letters that are 3.5 inches high.
Best Practice #4 – Location on the Pipe
Choosing where you will place the labeling on the pipe is also very important. To start with, you want your pipe markings located at least at the beginning and end of the pipes so people can easily see them. In addition, you want to have a label placed at least every 50 feet on the pipe. Having labels placed each time the pipe changes direction is also a best practice, as is having a label on both sides of a wall or other barrier that the pipe travels through.
Best Practice #5 – Readable from all Angles
In addition to just having the proper size and type of label, you need to make sure it is placed on the pipe so that it is easy to read. Putting a label that is mostly just on the top won’t help anyone. Proper installation requires that you make sure people from anywhere below or near the pipe can read the label. In some cases, this means you may need to put more than one label on to ensure visibility.
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In the event that a label does get damaged or unreadable for some reason, you need to be able to replace it as quickly as possible. For many facilities, this is easy to do because they have a high quality industrial label printer that allows them to print off new pipe markings as they are needed.
Best Practice #7 – Accurate Labeling
If you are marking a pipe that contains a hazardous chemical, it is often not enough to simply alert people that there is a danger. Including details about what chemical is in the pipe, and even what precautions must be taken around it is very important. This information can often be printed in smaller text, under the main content of the label.
Best Practice #8 – Offer Training
While it will primarily be those working on or cleaning the pipes that need to see these pipe markings, everyone should have at least a basic understanding of them. Letting people know what the different color codes mean, for example, will help ensure everyone can respond properly in the event of an emergency.
Best Practice #9 – Keep them Clean
Pipes that are located high up in the rafters don’t typically get dirty as fast as those that are below, but dust and other things will eventually build up on them. With that in mind, it is a best practice to make sure you are cleaning the pipes and the pipe markings on a regular basis. Each facility will be different regarding how frequently they need to be cleaned, but it is essential to ensure it takes place frequently enough to avoid visibility problems.
Best Practice #10 – Keep Standard with Custom Pipe Markings
When you are using a custom pipe marking, make sure that it is used consistently throughout the facility. If you have a purple label with white text, for example, that should only be used for one type of pipe in the facility. This may require some coordination to ensure it takes place, but it is well worth it.
Understanding Pipe Marking is Essential
The bottom line with pipe marking and best practices is that they are all in place to help improve safety and prevent accidents. These standards are all fairly simple to follow, so make sure to keep your facility up to date with them all.