There are numerous options available in terms of what exactly goes on pipe labels. This is because OSHA typically doesn’t regulate exactly how the labels should look, or what should be on them, they hand that job over to standard setting organizations such as ANSI, ASME, or the NFPA. For most facilities, pipe markings will still be a good idea and including as much useful information as possible will help to ensure the safety and well-being of those who work with and around various types of pipes.
One of the challenges with pipe markings is the limited amount of room. This is especially true on smaller pipes. With this in mind, it is important to prioritize what information should be placed on the labels and organize the information properly to ensure it's clear. Consider the following:
List the pipe's contents - One of the most important things to put on a pipe label is going to be the name of the substance contained in it. Listing the specific contents in bold, easy to see, lettering will ensure those working with the pipes can quickly distinguish what is there.
Specific Hazards & Responses - In many cases, listing the specific hazards associated with the contents of a pipe will be a good idea. Of course, due to the limited space on the pipes, it may be necessary to be very concise. For example, for hot liquids or steam, simply including the word “HOT” may be sufficient. Other simple phrases like poison, acid, or corrosive can also convey the necessary warning without taking a lot of room. In fact, the incorporation of GHS symbols and related information is allowed in the A13.1 standard.
Another way to let people know the type of hazard present is to use the standard colors that have been established by ANSI/ASME. Following color standards for pipe marking throughout your facility can actually provide more information to those in the area than any other method. The colors can also be seen from a greater distance, making it a very effective option.
Flow Direction - Using an arrow on the label to indicate flow direction is very helpful in many situations. This is not just a safety advantage, but also helps those who are working on or with the pipe to be able to determine where the pipe is coming from, and where it is going.
In the end, the specific information that should be included on pipe labels will depend largely on your situation. Finding the right balance between adding a lot of information and making sure it is easy to read will maximize the effectiveness of all pipe labeling efforts.
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