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Colour coding prevents maintenance mixups

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article image John McNab with his permanently colour-coded piping.

ONE of the last things a hard-pressed maintenance worker wants to worry about is what is in the pipes he's working on as another production deadline approaches.

Apart from needing to know quickly where to find the conduits to pneumatic, chemical, waste, water and other services, there's the safety concern involved if the worker opens or cuts into the wrong pipe.

It was with these considerations in mind that CalAir Pipe Systems evolved its Pro-Pipe II range of tough but lightweight piping systems that are permanently colour-coded to conform with the requirements of international standards relating to content identification of pipes, conduits and ducts, including AS1345 (1995) and ISO R508.

Guaranteed for 10 years and with typical expected lifespans of 50 years depending on applications, CalAir's entire Pro Pipe II range is permanently colour-coded in accordance with AS 1345-1995.

The coding includes Aqua for compressed air, Beige for gas, Green for water, Red for fire services, Violet for acids and alkalines, Brown for oil and Black for waste.

CalAir Pipe Systems managing director John McNab backs calls from the Compressed Air-Pipe Installers' Association (CAPIA), for greater industry awareness and observance of standards governing colour identification of the contents of pipes, conduits and ducts.

CAPIA Secretary Barry Bayfield says observance of the standards contained in AS 1345-1995 is particularly critical where they relate to employers' duty of care as outlined in the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

"Clearly there is a compelling case for the clearest possible identification of pipes to avoid mixups of liquids, gases or hazardous materials, especially in emergency situations.

“However, we believe that industry generally is not always fully aware of its obligations.

“In some situations, where installers or employers are not fully conversant with the standards, it is possible at present that pipe contents could be confused," he said.

Mr Bayfield's comments followed statements by leading producers and installers of colour-coded piping, including CalAir Pipe Systems, that confusion about the contents of different types of pipelines in Australia was creating "an accident waiting to happen".

John McNab says that while Australia has excellent existing standards covering colour coding of pipelines (derived originally from the international ISOR 508 standard) there had been insufficient educational promotion of the standard.

"It is self-evident that in an emergency people have to be able to quickly identify pipes such as "Red" coloured pipes for fire services. But it is equally important that people know immediately which pipes are carrying oil, for example, or hazardous chemicals, so they can shut them down.

"If, through lack of awareness of the standards required, all the pipes are black or randomly coloured or poorly identified, then employers may find they have an accident waiting to happen," said Mr McNab.

"Despite the fact that typically it costs no more to comply with the standard than not to comply with it, we still find many people contemplating industrial and building installations that fall short of ideal colour-coding or ID tagging.”

Typically eight times lighter than normal steel pipes - and much lighter also than copper and stainless steel - the non-corrosive Pro Pipe II comes with a family of quick-fit joints, fasteners and fittings that enable entire reticulation systems to be constructed without welding, without specialist labour and without specialist tools.

Available in a range of diameters from 12.5 to 100mm, Pro Pipe II is the latest product in a family of CalAir systems that has been proven in more than 4,500 commercial and industrial installations since 1989.

Manufactured from especially formulated CXPP-40 high performance block co-polymer polypropylene, Pro Pipe II systems offer triple the impact-resistance of earlier products with greater stiffness and temperature performance (from -20°C up to 100°C), as well as outstanding pressure capability at elevated temperatures.

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