Pipe Marking Color Codes

Arguably the most important component of a label is the color. People working with or near a pipe will need to know the pipe’s contents and color can immediately communicate that. While OSHA does not have a set and sealed requirement for pipe marking, there are industry standards to draw from.

Probably the most commonly used (and recommended by OSHA) standard is the ANSI/ASME A13.1 standard, which explains colors, text, size, and placement for pipe labels. Following a standard like the ANSI/ASME standard can ensure all departments within a facility are using the same colors and workers from all departments can be easily trained on the meaning of pipe label colors.

Color Combinations

Yellow with black lettering: Used for flammable contents

Green with white lettering: Potable water

Blue with white lettering: Compressed air

Red with white lettering: Fire quenching

Orange with black lettering: Toxic or corrosive

Brown with white lettering: Combustible

There are also four different color combinations that are user defined. If your facility has a fluid or gas traveling through pipes not covered by the above color combinations, the user defined option allows you to create custom labels that can be used throughout. If you have several facilities with pipes, you can also standardize the color combinations across facilities to make pipe labeling simpler.

Aside from the ANSI/ASME standards for pipe color codes, there are other standards when it comes to different industries. Sea vessel and marine pipe marking for instance, has a very different list of pipe marking color codes that are internationally recognized. These standards call for a main label color with an additional color bars to indicate specific substances. Other color code standards include pipe marking for water treatment pipes and specific standards for labeling pipes carrying ammonia.

Training is an important component of pipe labeling, especially when it comes to color combinations. When employees are trained on understanding what colors on pipes signify, the quicker they can identify the pipes contents in an emergency. New employees should be trained on your facilities and offering annual refresher training can be extremely helpful. It is also a good idea to have visual reminders, like signs and posters, to reinforce the idea of pipe color codes.

For the minimal investment of having a pipe marking strategy following the ANSI/ASME standard, you can greatly improve the safety of your workers.


Additional Resources