There are many different types of pipe markings that are used in facilities today. Sometimes a company will place labels on their pipes based on their specific needs. In most cases, however, pipe labeling is done because it is required by OSHA or some other type of regulatory agency. Learning about the different pipe marking requirements will help ensure your facility is always in compliance and does not experience any type of fines or penalties for violations.
General Pipe Marking Requirements
There is no OSHA category that specifically states that pipes need to be marked or labeled in any special way. This often leads companies to believe that they do not need to have any labels applied to their pipes in order to comply with regulations. The reality is, however, that the requirements are just covered under the more comprehensive subject of hazardous materials labeling.
Hazardous Chemical Communication
The HazCom systems require that anything that is holding a hazardous chemical be properly labeled with specific information. Since pipes often hold hazardous chemicals or dangerous steam or hot water, they would need to be properly labeled. For example, a pipe in an industrial ammonia refrigeration unit would need to be labeled to let people know that it is transporting ammonia.
There are many different types of chemicals that are used within a facility. Having them all properly labeled is required for maintaining workplace safety. In many cases there will not be enough room on a label to contain all the important safety information about a chemical. In these situations, it is necessary to keep all additional information in a centralized location so it can be referenced. When dealing with chemicals, this will typically be on the safety data sheet that needs to be in place whether the chemical is being stored in a container or transported through a pipe.
Information Needed on Pipes
In general, the information that needs to be on a pipe label is going to be similar to what you would put on any container used for hazardous substances. The biggest difference is going to be that it is also important to indicate what direction the substance within the pipe is flowing. This will help ensure people know where the substance is coming from and where it is going. Other than that, the requirements for pipe markings are going to be the same as the requirements for any other type of marking. Of course, companies can put additional information onto the pipes as needed to ensure everything is operating safely at all times.
Positioning of the Pipe Labels
Another thing to be aware of with pipe markings is that they have to be positioned correctly. With most general container labels, the only rule is that they need to be placed in a location where they are easy to see and read. The size of pipes, however, often makes it necessary to place multiple labels along the length of the pipe so that it can be seen at all times. This means putting the same label at the beginning of the pipe and a variety of other locations along the way. The most commonly places where labels are needed are in locations where the pipe turns, or where it passes through a way. The biggest thing to keep in mind for this is that a pipe marking should be visible at all times to ensure the needed information is available to those in the area.
Always Keep Safety in Mind
While the specific requirements mentioned above are very important, the general rule of thumb is going to be to always think about what will maximize safety within the facility. Since pipes are able to transport dangerous solutions throughout the facility, making sure that they are kept safe is absolutely essential.
If a pipe starts to leak, those in the area need to know what it is that is leaking so they can take the proper precautions to minimize the risk of injury. The response to a leak of ammonia, for example, will be quite different than the response would be for simple water. Likewise, these pipe markings will help emergency responders to react properly to any emergency. If you have a pipe that transports water for a fire suppression system, for example, a clear label identifying it may be important for the firefighters when they arrive.
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