ANSI A13.1 Benefits & Problems

ANSI A13.1 is the set of guidelines which is used to ensure that all pipes in a facility are clearly marked with what they contain.  The idea behind these standards is to ensure people working with and around all pipes know exactly what they contain before they take any action.  If, for example, an unlabeled pipe valve is opened by someone thinking it was just water it could cause major problems if it were actually some sort of toxic material.  Having the pipes labeled using a set standard also helps ensure people don’t work on one pipe by mistake when they thought it was another.  This is a very simple and affordable way to cut down on potentially dangerous mistakes in facilities which use pipes to transport different liquids.

The Benefits of ANSI A13.1

The ANSI A13.1 standards are widely accepted as being a comprehensive way to mark pipes clearly and easily. The guidelines will ensure that facilities following them will mark all their pipes using the right words, symbols and even materials so that the signs or labels don’t come off over time.  While these standards are not a requirement by OSHA for most facilities, they are commonly used anyway because they are so effective.

Having any facility follow these standards is smart because they are already widely used and known so even people who have not been trained in them will likely have a good idea of how it works.  In addition, if OSHA does expand the list of industries that must use pipe labeling this is undoubtedly the standard they will require so a facility using them will already be in compliance without having to rush to get everything updated.

The Problems with ANSI A13.1

While overall the ANSI A13.1 guidelines are a great way to ensure pipes are clearly marked and labeled, there are some minor issues.  In the guidelines there are different colors identified for different things.  White text on red background, for example, is for fire-quenching fluids.  Steam, which is very commonly transported through pipes, does not have a set color for it.  It can’t really be included in any of the other color options either since steam is quite different in regards to safety requirements than regular water.

It is also difficult to know what to do for smaller pipes, which are not large enough to have the standard sized labels placed on them.  Most facilities simply use smaller labeling, but technically that is not acceptable under the ANSI A13.1 guidelines.  These are fairly small things to be concerned with, and with some common sense people can come up with ways to get past these issues, but if this standard is to become required universally than they should be worked out ahead of time.

Overall this set of standards is quite good and is a simple and affordable way for most facilities to improve the overall safety of their pipes.  Most people agree that the ANSI A13.1 guidelines are a great starting point for any type of facility, whether they are required to use it by OSHA or not.

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