You would be hard-pressed to find any newly constructed building that don't have ducts and pipes labeled on the ceiling, inside the walls, and running under your feet. Pipe labeling or marking is everywhere, and it’s an important facet of safety because it ensures that what’s running through each pipe and the flow direction is easily identifiable in case an immediate shutoff is needed.

Here are some things you may not know about pipe marking.

1. Got Unlabeled Pipes Carrying HazMat?

OSHA doesn’t mess around; they want to see a HazCom plan. And that includes pipe labeling wherever there are pipes carrying hazardous materials. In fact, they recently fined a food manufacturer over $200,000 for violations, $44,000 of which was specifically for insufficient piping safety, including failing to label and identify piping systems. Who will be responsible for ensuring proper labeling in your facility?

2. Your Pipe Marking's Font Is Critical

It might seem like a negligible detail, but it's true: the human eye can only see certain types of text quickly and sometimes you only have a few seconds to read your pipes’ labels. A sans-serif font like Verdana or Helvetica will ensure that each line of text can be easily read. Text sizes are dictated by the size of the pipe.

Not sure what text to use? Consult this article on OSHA pipe marking requirements. Or, better yet, order this free pipe marking guide and have the info at your fingertips whenever you need it.

3. You Can’t Just Use Any Color to Label Your Pipes

The popular ANSI/ASME A13.1 standard uses six predefined colors and four user-defined colors to identify hazards. Using standard color for your labels is important because it's one of the ways those labels convey information. The color yellow, for instance, can increase awareness when it matters most because workers know that a highly visible yellow label means they need to take extra safety precautions.

4. There Are Guidelines for Spacing the Labels

If your piping runs several feet or even many miles (apparently the Alamodome in Texas has 13 miles of pipe running under its two ice rinks!), you should have your pipes labeled according to the ANSI/ASME A13.1 recommendation that there should be at least one label every 50 feet (about 15 meters) throughout the piping run. Other standards include different recommendations, usually for less space between labels.

5. There Is a Safe and Easy Way to Apply Your Labels

Maybe you’ve been putting off labeling the pipes in your facility that run high above your head. Do you know how to do it safely?

Using a ladder or lift to place labels on pipes and duct work in high ceilings can be time-consuming, costly, and unsafe. And retrofitting other tools to complete the task can be downright dangerous.

Build a scaffolding? No thanks.

Now, there’s a Pipe Marker Applicator that lets you keep your feet on the ground while you apply labels safely and quickly.

6. Safety in the Maritime Industry Involves Careful Pipe Marking

In the 1970s, a simple unlabeled pipe mix-up cost a U.S. shipbuilder over $300,000 in damages. The builder was putting the final touches on a seagoing vessel while it was still in the shipyard, when the building crew mistakenly pumped fire retardant foam into the pipe fitted for air. The foam proceeded to gum up the entire HVAC system, halting the ship’s production for months while workers fixed the system and got rid of the sudsy stuff.

Need More Information on Pipe Marking?

Visit the Graphic Products’ resource hub on pipe marking or use the Best Practice Guide to Pipe Marking as an integral part to every safety program. Download your free copy today.