Presented By
Brian McFadden

Brian McFadden

Technical Writer

Compliance Specialist


Webinar Preview

Contents of the Pipe Marking 101 Webinar:

  • The ANSI/ASME A13.1 standard for identification of piping systems
  • The importance of pipe marking in a safe, efficient workplace
  • And how Graphic Products can help you develop and print effective pipe markers.

Excerpt from the Pipe Marking 101 Webinar transcript:

The ANSI/ASME A13.1 Standard

There are dozens of standards for pipe marking for different industries and countries, but we’ll talk today about the ANSI/ASME A13.1 standard, the single broadest recommendation for pipe marking in the United States. ANSI/ASME A13.1 covers a wide range of general industry applications, but other, more specific standards cover ammonia refrigeration pipes, sea vessel and marine pipe marking, healthcare facility pipe systems, and more.

The standard was created in 2007 by combining previous recommendations from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). One key element of the resulting standard is how it uses color: while the old recommendations assigned colors based on whether a hazard existed, ANSI/ASME A13.1 uses different colors to identify the specific types of hazards (if any) that are present. The standard was reaffirmed without changes in 2013, but the 2015 edition added some new options for including GHS-style hazard pictograms on the pipe marker, connecting a facility’s pipe marking program with the international classification system for chemical hazards. These are completely optional; in the interest of time, we’ll only cover what’s required. For more information on these options, check out our newly-updated Best Practice Guide to Pipe Marking.

Why Pipe Marking is Important

Conforming to this standard, with properly marked pipes, is key for a number of reasons. It promotes a safer workplace by identifying any pipes that carry hazardous chemicals, which in turn prevents the wrong valve from being opened to release those materials. And, in the event of emergency, it helps responders judge the severity of a situation, and see which pipes might contain firefighting materials.

Properly-labeled pipes also create a more efficient workplace. Thousands of feet of pipe may run through a given facility, and effective pipe marking can eliminate confusion and simplify maintenance tasks. When it’s time to expand or update a piping network, or add new equipment to your facility, knowing which pipe carries what material can be critical. Labels give you that information when and where you need it.

OSHA and Pipe Marking

OSHA only issues specific requirements for labeling pipes in certain industries: pulp and paper, textiles, and welding and cutting, for example. In those fields, OSHA specifies that the industry must follow the ANSI/ASME A13.1 standard. But in all industries, OSHA’s General Duty Clause requires that workplaces be kept safe and free of hazards. Following that requirement means labeling all potential hazards—including pipes. As a result, a lack of proper pipe marking can be cited under the General Duty Clause.

More specifically, OSHA’s regulations for Process Safety Management of Highly Hazardous Chemicals (29 CFR §1910.119) require employers to ensure that their facilities follow “Recognized And Generally Accepted Good Engineering Practice, or “RAGAGEP.” The ANSI/ASME A13.1 standard is an excellent example of RAGAGEP for pipe labels.

ASME-Compliant Pipe Marking

The ANSI/ASME A13.1 standard outlines three basic elements for a basic pipe marking label:
• Marking color, which follows a color-code to identify hazards
• Label text, which identifies the specific contents of that pipe
• Directional arrows, which show the direction of flow within the pipe

The standard also gives details about:
• The best size for a label, based on the size of the pipe
• Placement requirements, to maximize label visibility

Label Colors

First is the color of the label, which identifies the hazard presented by that pipe’s contents. The text on the label will be either black or white, depending on the color of the background, for maximum contrast. For example, black print on a blue background would be difficult to read, while white print on a blue background is much easier to read.

There are six main color categories in ANSI/ASME A13.1, based primarily on the type of hazard presented by the pipe’s contents. If multiple hazards are present, use the color that matches the most significant or relevant hazard, as present your facility.

Flammable and Oxidizing - Yellow
Flammable and oxidizing materials are marked with black print on a yellow label. This attention-grabbing color identifies vapors that can ignite and continue to burn in the air, such as hydrogen or propane. Starting with the 2015 edition of the standard, this color is also used for oxidizers; these materials may not burn on their own, but will contribute to the burning of other materials; many peroxides are in this category.

Combustible - Brown
Combustible materials are identified by white print on a brown label, and include fluids that can pose a fire hazard, but don’t meet the criteria for the flammable category. Canola oil and liquefied paraffin wax are examples.

Toxic/Corrosive - Orange
Next are toxic or corrosive materials. These are identified with black text on an orange label. This may represent corrosive or toxic materials, or materials that might produce toxic or corrosive substances in a spill or leak. Examples include chlorine and nitric acid.

Firefighting - Red
Fire-quenching materials are identified with white print on a red label. This includes water and other substances used in sprinkler systems and fire-fighting piping systems. Examples include sprinkler water and carbon dioxide.

Other Water - Green
Other Water pipes are identified by white print on a green labels. Any water not used in sprinkler or fire-fighting systems is included in this category. Examples include water used for cooling and boiler feeds.

Compressed Air - Blue
Finally, compressed air is identified by white print on a blue label. In addition to ordinary compressed air, this category includes low-hazard gases that don’t fall into other hazard categories, such as nitrogen and argon.

The ANSI/ASME A13.1 standard also includes four color codes that can be defined by your facility. They are:

• White print on a black label
• Black print on a white label
• White print on a purple label
• White print on a gray label

These categories can be used to identify pipe systems unique to the facility while still following the ANSI/ASME A13.1 standard. They can also be used where a given material poses more than one significant hazard type, or where the hazards are unique to that material.

To learn the about common types of visual signals, and practical guidance on maximizing the value of visuals in your facility, watch the full webinar on demand now!