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Forklift Safety – You Can Save A Life Today (Sep/Oct-17)
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Lockout-Tagout from a Manager’s Perspective (May/Jun-17)
Do Your Employees Really Know How to Use Personal Protective Equipment? (Mar/Apr-17)
OSHA & Lockout/Tagout (Nov/Dec-16)
OSHA Increases Their Penalties Towards Employers (Jul/Aug-16)
Do You Know What Your Experience Modification Rate Is? (May/Jun-16)
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Lockout, Tagout & Tryout – Are You in Compliance? (Jul/Aug-15)
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Respiratory Protection . . . Does Your Program Protect? (May/Jun-14)
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Working with Composite Materials Safely and Preventing Dermatitis (Jan/Feb-14)
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The Globally Harmonized System for Hazard Communication – Are You Ready For It? (Sep/Oct-13)
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Liquefied Petroleum Gas Safety (May/Jun-13)
Posting of OSHA Notices (Jan/Feb-13)
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Machine Safeguarding (Jul/Aug-12)
Is Your Lockout & Tagout Program Working? (May/Jun-12)
Getting Familiar with OSHA (Mar/Apr-12)
Is Your Piping Systems Properly Marked? (Jan/Feb-12)
Accident Prevention, Does Your Company Have An Effective Program? (Nov/Dec-11)
Defining FR – Flame Resistant Fabrics (Jul/Aug-11)
OSHA's Flammable & Combustible Liquids (May/Jun-11)
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Lockout/Tagout Program (Jul/Aug-10)
Safe Handling of Compressed Gas Cylinders (May/Jun-10)
What You Should Know about OSHA and Plastic Working Machinery (Mar/Apr-10)
Fasten Those Forklift Seat Belts (Jan/Feb-10)
My Back Hurts (Nov/Dec-09)
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Free Forklift ANSI Standards (Nov/Dec-08)
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Is Your Company on OSHA's Hit List?
OSHA Notifies Workplaces with High Injury and Illness Rates (Mar/Apr-08)
Safety Means . . . Never Having to Say You're Sorry (Jan/Feb-08)
Flammables and Combustible Liquids (Nov/Dec-07)
Designing-In Safety NOT Retrofitting Safety (Sep/Oct-07)
Back Safety and Lifting (Jul/Aug-07)
Machine Guarding (May/Jun-07)
Your Hearing Keep it for a Lifetime (Mar/Apr-07)
Light Up the Holidays the Safe Way (Nov/Dec-06)
Would You Risk Your Employee's Life? (Sep/Oct-06)
How to Control Workers' Compensation Costs (Jul/Aug-06)
Compliance with 70E Electrical Standards (May/Jun-06)
OSHA Is on the Move (Mar/Apr-06)
Workplace Violence (Jan/Feb-06)
The Aging Workforce (Nov/Dec-05)
The Safety Paradox (Sep/Oct-05)
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Effective Risk Management (May/Jun-05)
Safety Is Everyone's Business (Mar/Apr-05)
New Year's Resolution Safety (Jan/Feb-05)
Safe Driving (Nov/Dec-04)
Terror In The Skies Revisited (Sep/Oct-04)
How They Got Hurt (Jul/Aug-04)
In-Plant Air Monitoring & Analysis (May/Jun-04)
Safety on the Job and Complying with the Americans With Disabilities Act (Mar/Apr-04)
Link to Article Archive (Jan/Feb-04)
A Supervisor's Duty (Nov/Dec-03)
Machine Safety – Are Your Machines Safe to Operate? (Sep/Oct-03)
Summer is Here (Jul/Aug-03)
Working Safely On Powered Industrial Trucks (Forklifts) (May/Jun-03)
Does Your Safety and Health Workplace Program Contain All of These Elements? (Mar/Apr-03)
Methylene Chloride (Jan/Feb-03)
Safety Signs & Labels - Does Your Facility Comply? (Nov/Dec-02)
Indoor Air Quality (Sep/Oct-02)
When OSHA Arrives (Jul/Aug-02)
Facts About the Occupation Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) (May/Jun-02)
Workplace Fire Safety (Mar/Apr-02)
OSHA 300 Form (Jan/Feb-02)
Preparing for Disaster (Nov/Dec-01)
How Much is a Life Worth? (Sep/Oct-01)
Material Handling Programs (Jul/Aug-01)
It's Up To You To Protect Your Skin (May/Jun-01)
When You’ve Been Handed the Responsibility for Safety (Mar/Apr-01)
A Fresh Look at Machine Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-01)
Safe Work Habits (Nov/Dec-00)
The Importance of Material Safety Data Sheets (Sep/Oct-00)
Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (Jul/Aug-00)
Lockout/Tagout Program (May/Jun-00)
OSHA Violations, Citations and Penalties for 1998 (Mar/Apr-00)
Erogonomics and Machinery Safeguarding (Jan/Feb-00)
General Machine Principles (Nov/Dec-99)
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SAFETY SOLUTIONS: Is Your Piping Systems Properly Marked?

Understanding ANSI Pipe Marking Standards

Welcome to the year of 2012 and I would like to start this year off by writing about piping systems that may be located in your facility. One of the most overlooked items is proper pipe marking. Almost every facility has a piping system running through it that could be carrying dangerous substances. These pipes need to be properly labeled to let people know what the pipe contents are, the direction of flow, potential hazards, and preventative measures. Another thing to think about is what the hazardous materials located in these pipes can have on your workers, or they can also affect the environment. Anytime there is a spill or leak, the substance is likely to flow into a body of water, into the soil, absorb into the atmosphere, or come in contact with wildlife.

Marking of pipes that may hold a liquid substance must be marked according OSHA 29CFR 1910.1200 standards.

Hazardous materials flow through miles of piping in many industrial, commercial and institutional facilities. Just like hazardous materials in other situations, piping systems should be appropriately labelled to make people aware of the materials they carry. The older versions (1981 & 1996) of the ANSI (American National Standards Institute) A13.1 standard have merged into the ANSI/ASME (American Society of Testing and Materials) A13.1 Scheme for Identification of Piping Systems. This merged standard ANSI/ASME A13.1, addresses pipe marking by offering a common labelling method for use in all industrial, commercial, institutional facilities and in buildings used for public assembly. This standard does not apply to buried pipelines or electrical conduit.

Label Requirements

Pipe marking labels must effectively communicate the contents of the pipes and give additional detail if special hazards (such as extreme temperatures or pressures) exist. The legend should be short in length and easy to understand. For example, the legend “Steam 100 PSIG” specifies the contents as well as the additional pressure hazard. An arrow should be used in conjunction with the legend to show which direction the material flows. If flow can be in both directions, arrows in both directions shall be displayed.

The older versions (1981 & 1996) of ANSI A13.1 separated materials transported in aboveground piping systems into three categories: - High-Hazard Materials: Encompasses several hazard areas including corrosive and caustic materials; substances that are toxic or capable of creating toxic gases; explosive and flammable materials; radioactive substances; and materials that, if released, would be hazardous due to extreme pressures or temperatures. - Low-Hazard Materials: Materials that are not inherently hazardous and have a small chance of harming employees through mild temperatures and low pressures. - Fire Suppression Materials: Fire protection materials such as foam, carbon dioxide (CO2), Halon and water.

The three hazard classes have different color-coded labels associated with them. All high-hazard materials use black characters on a yellow background. The low-hazard material class is divided into two different color schemes: liquids or liquid mixtures use white characters on a green background; gases or gaseous mixtures use white characters on a blue background. The fire suppression class uses white letters on a red background. The letters on pipe labels should be a minimum of 1/2" high, and should increase in size as the pipe diameter increases (Table 1).

The 2007 edition of the ANSI/ASME A13.1 changed the color scheme requirements for the labels. In this new edition of the standard, there are 6 standard colors instead of 4 colors. The new label color requirements are based on the characteristic hazards of the contents. See Table 2 for the new color requirements.

Label Placement

Labels should be positioned (Fig. 1) on the pipes so they can be easily read. Proper label placement is on the lower side of the pipe if the employee has to look up to the pipe, on the upper side of the pipe if the employee has to look down towards the pipe, or directly facing the employee if on the same level as the pipe. Labels should be located near valves, branches, where a change in direction occurs, on entry/re-entry points through walls or floors, and on straight segments with spacing between labels that allows for easy identification.

Exceptions to this Standard

Other pipe labelling systems are acceptable if they are put in writing and meet the basic ANSI requirements.

Commonly Asked Questions Q. Can I still use my current pipe marking system based on the older version of the standard or do I have to change my color scheme to meet ASME A13.1 2007? A. Existing schemes for identification shall be considered as meeting the requirements of the standard if the schemes are described in writing and employees are trained in the operation and hazards of the piping system. Q. What if I have a pipe smaller than ? A. For pipes of less than in diameter the use of a permanently legible tag is recommended. Q. Are particular shades of yellow, green, red and blue required for pipe labels? A. Yes, ANSI/ASME A13.1- recommends the color code featured in the ANSI Z53.1- Safety Color Code for Marking Physical Hazards. The color shades recommended are intended to give highest level of recognition to employees with both normal and color-deficient vision. Q. Has this ANSI Standard been adopted by OSHA? A. No, it is still considered an industry consensus standard, which is only a recommendation. Even though it has not been specifically adopted by OSHA, industry consensus standards may be evidence that a hazard is recognized and there is a feasible means of correcting such a hazard. If you do not follow a consensus standard, it is possible to be cited under the General Duty Clause.

Should you have further questions or need safety & health information, please feel free to visit our site at

References ASME A13.1-2007 Scheme for the Identification of Piping Systems, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, New York, NY 10016. ANSI A13.1-1981 Scheme for the Identification of Piping Systems, American National Standards Institute, New York, NY 10036. ANSI Z53.1-1979 Safety Color Code for Marking Physical Hazards, American National Standards Institute, New York, NY 10036. ANSI Z535.1-1991 Safety Color Code, American National Standards Institute, New York, NY 10036. American National Standards Institute: 11 W. 42nd St. New York, NY 10036 (212) 642-4900. Special thanks to Lab Safety Supply Company for allowing me to use some of their information.

For more information, click on the author biography at the top of this page.

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