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​A New Standard to Bring Consistency – and Added Safety – to Pipemarking

Posted by Clarion Safety Systems on 20th Sep 2016

Most facilities – as well as oil rigs, ships, industrial plants and building complexes – have pipemarking systems in use. The proper identification of these system components is critical. These markings quickly communicate vital information to personnel, maintenance staff and firefighters.

There are a variety of national and international standards that effect pipemarking, but not one uniform, consistent system. Good news: that will soon change.

One of the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) technical committees – ISO/TC 145 – standardizes the symbols that appear on products and for use in built environments. ISO/TC 145 subcommittee 2 focuses on safety identification, signs, shapes, symbols and colors. Its working group 6’s (WG 6) primary task is the development of a new standard, ISO 20560-1 – Safety signs – Part 1: Pipemarking .

According to the draft standard’s introduction:

“Continuous growth in mobility of labour has resulted in a need to standardize a system of safety information for the content of pipemarking systems and storage tanks. The use of this International Standard is expected to reduce risk by providing a means of improved training and education and to reduce possible confusion with working on and near piping systems and storage tanks and in case of an emergency situation.”

This global standard on pipemarking is the very first of its kind. Currently under discussion in its initial working draft are ideas on combining the NFPA 704: Standard System for the Identification of the Hazards of Materials for Emergency Response (also known as the “NFPA hazard diamond”) with globally recognized GHS/ISO graphical symbols and safety color-coding to communicate information related to the contents of piping systems.

An example of pipemarking identification from the initial draft of ISO 20560.*

ISO 20560 is a work in progress – and is years away from being finalized (it’s expected to publish within the next three years). But, the development of this standard is a promising direction and push forward for safety.

“WG 6 has the task of combining different international safety standards – GHS, ISO 3864, ISO 7010 – and existing pipemarking standards to accomplish their objective of realizing a truly global, harmonized system of hazard recognition for pipemarking systems. This uniformity of graphics, color-coding and formatting of safety messages will bring important consistency, which in turn drives familiarity and increased comprehension, all of which are an important part of effective safety communication; communication that is aimed at reducing risk and saving lives,” says Clarion’s CEO, Geoffrey Peckham , who also serves as chairman of both the ANSI Z535 Committee for Safety Signs and Colors and of ANSI’s U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) to ISO/TC 145.

To stay up-to-date on ISO 20560 – or to learn how to become involved in the U.S. TAG assisting with the standard’s development – contact Clarion today.

To learn about how ISO uses symbols, vocabulary and color to standardize safety signage on a worldwide basis, watch Clarion’s short video “ISO Symbols for Safety Signs and Labels.


*This is an example only. ISO 20560’s first working draft is currently under discussion; the standard is not yet final.

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