Pipe markers just may be the superheroes of safety labels. While arc flash, OSHA compliance and NFPA labels may have to withstand occasional bouts of inclement weather or extreme temperatures, pipe marking labels probably have to withstand the most abuse while performing their duty. Why is that?
Pipe markers are exposed to two environments at the same time: the external or outside environment and the environment of the pipe’s contents. Here’s an example. You’re in an extremely cold geographic location, say northern Alaska in January. There are external pipes at your facility that are channeling steam as part of the building’s heating system. Our heroic pipe marker has to withstand frigid cold on its surface while maintaining adhesion against a pipe carrying hot steam. That’s an extreme variation in exposure and temperatures for a single label to withstand.
So, while it’s important to inspect all of your facility’s labels and signs for wear, tear, readability and compliance, you should pay special attention to the condition of your pipe markers, and March is a good time to do it.
March signals a change in season. If you have external pipe marking systems, winter may have impacted label performance. While you’re at it, check your internal piping systems as well especially if they are carrying contents of extreme temperature, or the pipe surface is exposed to oil, dust and grit.
Here are a few things to look for.
Readability – What good is a pipe marker if it’s not legible? Check your pipe markers for sharpness of the lettering and fading of the background field color. While you’re at it, check for label placement and readability in relation to the point of normal approach.
Edge Failure – Closely inspect the label edges, especially the corners. This is the most common cause for label failure. This step is especially important for outdoor pipe markers which can break down over a single season if adhesion has been compromised or moisture has crept underneath the label surface.
Cracks, Scratches or Bubbles – Check for bubbling, scratches or cracks. All of these could allow moisture to seep under the label and break down the adhesive.