Refinery pipes need to be marked in a way that is unambiguous and clear, to avoid having the wrong pipe cut during maintenance. Hacking off a pipe you think conducts water just to get a plume of flammable gas is a sure way to ruin the day and get fined by authorities. This is why pipe markings need to comply with the ANSI code, be applied every few feet so workers don’t have to trace the pipe for miles just to see what it carries, and have to last a long time after application.
ANSI codes say that pipes must be marked in a way that makes it easy to identify substance and flow direction from any place that the pipe is visible. Labels must be bright, visible and durable – most commercial labels are made with vinyl and adhere with strong glue, so even a corrosive environment won’t darken or detach them.
Pipe labels are there not only for the benefit of refinery workers that are going to conduct maintenance on them, but also emergency personnel who will need to know about potential hazards if they respond to the site.
During maintenance, it’s important to know what a pipe is carrying, and whether it has been vacated of potentially flammable contents. A refinery pipe hacksaw can cause sparks that may ignite gas or petroleum vapor – don’t get involved with a pipe unless you know it’s empty!