Pipe marking is an important part of a safety program. Not only is it highly recommended by OSHA, but it's required by the ANSI and ASME organizations. Pipe markers provide important information both during normal operations and when there is an emergency.
The first step in evaluating your pipe markers is to gather information about current conditions and workplace practices that are a part of your operations, maintenance and, safety and health program. This information can help you identify problems and determine what is needed to solve them.
Your workplace pipe marker assessment should be conducted by the person responsible for your safety and health management and/or by a professional consultant.
Pipe Marker Self-Inspection
The most widely accepted way to identify hazards is to conduct a physical safety and health inspection in which someone goes out and looks at every part of a piping system. The only way to be certain of an actual situation is to look at your complete piping system from time to time.
Below is a checklist designed to assist you in self-inspection of pipe markers. The checklist can help you identify areas where you need to begin taking action to make your business safer. The checklist is not necessarily all-inclusive and some things on the checklist may not apply to your workplace. Or you may need to add additional items to your checklist. Remember that a pipe marking checklist is a tool to help, not a definitive statement of what is mandatory. Use this pipe marking checklist only for guidance.
Identification of Piping Systems
☐ When non-potable water is piped through a facility, are outlets or taps posted to alert employees that the water is unsafe and not to be used for drinking, washing, or other personal use?
☐ When hazardous substances are transported through above-ground piping, is each pipeline identified at points where confusion could introduce hazards to employees?
☐ When pipelines carrying hazardous substances are identified by tags, are the tags constructed of durable materials? Tags should be resistant to tearing, moisture and to the material carried by the pipe. Is the message printed clearly and permanently on the tag? Are there tags installed at (or on) each valve and outlet?
☐ Are RTK labels used at sample points, or other locations of potential exposure to pipe contents, when the pipe contains a hazardous material? (Note: RTK labels may be appropriate on valve tags, and near connection points or flanges.)
☐ Pipe contents are to be identified by color labels (ANSI A13.1). Are all pipes labeled such that labels are located at required and reasonable intervals, and at each outlet, valve, connection and penetration? Are all visible parts of the pipe properly labeled with a pipe marker?
☐ Is the color code used for pipe markers, including any custom colors, posted at all locations where confusion could introduce hazards to employees?
☐ When the contents of pipelines are identified by name or name abbreviation, is the information readily visible on each pipe marker, and near each valve or outlet?
☐ When pipelines are heated by electricity, steam, or other external source, are suitable warning signs or tags placed at unions, valves, or other serviceable parts of the system?
☐ Are hazards associated with a pipe, such as high or low temperatures, clearly marked? Are hazards such as low pipes (a potential for hitting your head) marked?
☐ Are all pipe markers in good physical condition? If a pipe marker shows signs of fading, tearing, corners peeling up, or other indications of failure, it should be identified as needing replacement.