Why it’s Important to Label Pipes

Why pipe labels are importantMarking pipes in industrial, commercial, and institutional facilities can help make a workplace safer and more efficient. When pipes are clearly labeled, fewer accidents involving injuries and damage to property occur.

If the people working in your facility—and even visitors and emergency responders—cannot easily see what flows through a pipe, this problem can lead to dangerous situations. Pipes might be misidentified, or someone might not even consider the hazards related to a particular substance because they do not know it’s present. Improperly labeled pipes can also compromise the efficiency of your workplace, as employees may need to spend extra time figuring out what travels through a pipe during repairs.

Furthermore, many industries have specific standards for labeling. For example, healthcare facilities are subject to specific requirements for pipes carrying medical gases, while marine vessels must use special color-coding.

Most facilities, however, should follow the ASME/ANSI A13.1 standard for pipe marking, which requires an employer use labels that state what a pipe contains and what possible hazards are related to that substance. By following this standard, facilities can remain compliant with OSHA regulations (29 CFR 1910.261 (a)(3)(ii)) as well.

The ANSI/ASME guide is used as the standard for identifying pipes using an easy-to-follow color code. For instance, fire quenching materials are marked with a red label with white text, and flammable materials call for a yellow label with black text. It’s a simple proves that will help people immediately identify the type of contents in a pipe while standardizing pipe marking across departments.

Industry-Specific Label Guidelines

For most industries, abiding by ASME/ANSI pipe marking standards
will be sufficient for staying safe and OSHA compliant. There are some workplaces, though, that are required to comply with more specific requirements due to the particularly volatile nature of the substances the use in their pipes, or because of the uniquely complex environment of these workplaces. These include:

  • Ammonia Pipe Marking: Ammonia is corrosive to the eyes, skin, and lungs. Because this chemical poses a severe threat to human health, the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration has developed standards for marking pipes that carry ammonia and ammonia-based substances.
  • NFPA 99/CGA C-9 Pipe Marking: Liquids and gases used for medical purposes in certain settings and institutions follow the NFPA/CGA pipe marking standard. This includes specific colors for gases like oxygen, nitrous oxide, and nitrogen in medical facilities.
  • ISO/DIS 14726 Sea Vessel & Marine Pipe Marking: The international Organization for Standardization (ISO) put forth pipe marking standards to be used in marine environments. The color codes used are much more specific and feature a base color with a colored stripe to further distinguish the material in the pipe.

Additional Resources