Pipe markers are required by ANSI A13.1 (and ASME A13.1). OSHA includes ANSI A13.1 by reference for the pulp and paper industry, textiles, and for welding and cutting. But that does not mean you will not be cited if you are outside of those industries and do not have ANSI compliant pipe marking. OSHA considers pipe marking to be a safety issue. A lack of proper pipe marking can be cited under the OSHA General Duty Clause.
ANSI is not the only organization that sets standards for pipe marking. The International Institute for Ammonia Refrigeration (IIAR) has standards for ammonia pipe marking in refrigeration systems. Compressed Gas Association (CGA) has set standards for medical gas pipe marking. There are standards for marine pipe marking. You need to be aware of and comply with the pipe marking standards that apply to your location. However, the ANSI A13.1 pipe marking standard is, by far, the one that most commonly applies.
How are Safety and ANSI Pipe Marking Related?
Pipe marking informs employees, contractors, vendors and visitors about potential hazards associated with pipe contents. Pipe markers are not just used on pipes that carry hazardous materials. Labels that identify pipe contents that are not hazardous, such as potable water, are equally important because those pipes are then positively identified as not containing a hazardous material.
Color is the fastest and most effective way to communicate information. ANSI A13.1 pipe markers use a color code to identify the type of material the pipe contains. The ANSI pipe marking color code is:
- Fire-quenching fluids - White text on red
- Toxic and corrosive fluids - Black text on orange
- Flammable fluids - Black text on yellow
- Combustible fluids - White text on brown
- Potable, cooling, boiler feed, and other water - White text on green
- Compressed air - White text on blue
- Additional color combinations are available for custom pipe markers specific to a facility.
This color code immediately shows the hazards associated with a pipe. In addition, safety is enhanced by identifying fire quenching systems using red.
Additional information about pipe contents is provided by having the contents named in text printed on the pipe marker. This allows the specific hazard to be identified. In some cases, although not required by ANSI, the NFPA diamond is included as a part of the pipe marker. This provides more detailed information about the hazards associated with the pipe contents.
ANSI Pipe makers are also required to show the direction of flow. This immediately shows the facility staff, as well as emergency responders, which direction to go in order to shut off the flow through the pipe.
Overall ANSI A13.1 compliant pipe markers are critical for safety. They provide important information that is needed during emergency situations. They also provide information that helps improve productivity under normal conditions... allowing employees to easily see the purpose and function of pipes throughout your facility.
With ANSI A13.1 pipe markers providing a critical safety function, it is important that your pipe markers are in place and legible when they are needed. Pipe markers that fall off, are faded, get damaged by wash-down chemicals, or that fail due to weather or other environmental conditions, are not doing their job – and may even be considered as contributing to a safety hazard.