Valve tags are one of those things that most people working in various facilities have seen, but may not have given much thought. If you have been tasked with creating or improving a procedure for using valve tags in your facility, it is important that you take the time to learn as much as you can about them. This page will provide a great overview of what valve tags are and how they should be used in a facility.
Once you have this information, you can begin to create an effective valve tag strategy. This will help to improve safety, make maintenance easier, and provide a variety of other benefits as well.
Why are Valve Tags Important?
The first thing that many people will ask when it comes to valve tags is why are they important. Valve tags may seem like a minor item that is used in many facilities, but is it really an essential item? For many companies, valve tags are a critical item that needs to be used on every valve throughout the facility. Understanding some of the benefits that they can provide will help to illustrate why they are so important.
Valve tags can help to improve the safety of your facility. Many facilities will have dozens, or even hundreds, of valves that control the flow of various liquids and gasses. If someone opens a valve thinking that it is just water, but it is actually a dangerous chemical, the results can be disastrous. Having a tag on the valve to alert people of what is in the pipes that it controls will help to dramatically reduce the risk of this type of accident from happening.
When someone needs to perform some type of work on the piping system, they need to know exactly what is contained within the pipes before they begin. It is not enough to just try to remember or to guess what is in them. Having a valve tag in place will make it so the maintenance team does not need to go back and trace out the pipes throughout the facility. This can save a lot of time and effort, while also helping to further reduce the risk of making a mistake.
There are a variety of different regulatory requirements in place that apply to situations where dangerous chemicals are being used. Companies need to be certain that they are always in compliance with the regulatory requirements or they could be fined or even shut down. If you have any type of hazardous chemicals in your facility, it is very likely that you are legally required to have the valves tagged and the pipes labeled in order to ensure everyone knows what is within them.
Buying or Making Valve Tags
If you need to apply valve tags to the various areas of your facility, you will need to either purchase the tags themselves, or have them made in your facility. Fortunately, valve tags are very inexpensive and easy to buy or make.
Learning a little bit about what goes into making a valve tag will help you to make sure that you are getting the right ones for the right situations.
Materials Used for Valve Tags
The first thing to consider is what materials you want to use for your valve tags. Different materials will have different advantages and disadvantages, which makes them right for various situations. The following are some of the most commonly used materials for valve tags:
- Paper Tags – Paper tags are by far the least expensive option, and they can be quickly printed off with most any computer. You can use a heavier paper stock to make them more durable. This option is great for any valve that is not going to get wet or be used very frequently so that the tag does not get damaged.
- Plastic Tags – If you need tags that will work in a moist environment and will stand up to more contact on a regular basis, plastic tags are an excellent option to consider. Plastic can typically last for many years without corrosion or other problems. Of course, they can be susceptible to melting if they come into contact with high levels of heat, so they may not be a great choice for high temperature areas.
- Vinyl Tags – Vinyl tags are something of a combination of the benefits of paper and plastic tags. They are going to be much more durable than just using paper, and they can also be used in areas with lots of moisture. Vinyl tags are also typically very inexpensive and long lasting. Vinyl can be much more flexible than a plastic tag, which can make it a good choice when you need flexibility.
- Metal Tags – The most expensive option is going to be a valve tag made of metal. The metal needs to be engraved with the information required for the valve. There are many different types of metal that can be used including stainless steel, aluminum, and more. These options can last an extremely long time and are much more durable when it comes to heat exposure.
Looking at all the different options you have available will help you to pick the right one for your facility. Also, remember that it is not necessary to use just one material for your valve tags. You can use all the different materials in different locations throughout the facility to ensure you are always getting the results you need.
Attaching Tags to Valves
In addition to making sure the valve tags themselves are properly made, you need to ensure they will attach to the pipes securely. You can use a variety of different things to attach these tags. The following are some of the most commonly used options available:
- Metal Wire
- Zip Ties
Evaluate which of these options is best should not take long. All of them will provide you with a good way to secure your tags in place.
Valve Tag Colors
Another thing to keep in mind when choosing your valve tags is what color they will be. Using a variety of different colors for your valve tags will make it easier for people to get the information they need at just a glance. If you are going to use colored valve tags to convey meaning, however, it is critical that you make sure that the standards are followed throughout the facility. For most facilities that use colored valve tags, it makes sense to follow the standards put forth by ANSI/ASME, which are as follows:
- Red Background with White Text – This color combination is used for fire quenching fluids.
- Orange Background with Black Text – This color combination is used for corrosive or toxic fluids.
- Yellow Background with Black Text – This color combination is used for flammable or oxidizing fluids.
- Brown Background with White Text – This color combination is used for combustible fluids.
There are a variety of other options available for color coding your valve tags. Many of them are either required or recommended by various agencies and organizations. Others you can decide what you want to use based on what you believe will work best for your facility.
Training Employees on Valve Tag Meanings
Valve tags are only going to be useful if people know what they are and what meaning they have. This means you need to train everyone who works in your facility on your valve tag policy. Start by making sure all of your employees are taught what valve tags are, your color-coding standards, and where to find any additional information they need.
If you have contractors, maintenance teams, or other people who may not be employees, it is critical that they are trained as well. Anyone who may have any interaction with your piping system or the valves themselves should have proper training on how you are using the valve tags.
Fortunately, valve tags are not a very complicated item in the facility so it will not take very much time to provide everyone the training they need. Once they receive this training, they will only need to be given refreshers occasionally, or updates when things change. You can even make it easy to remember the meanings of common aspects of the valve tags by putting up signs or labels around the facility.
Creating a Valve Tag Policy for Your Facility
Now that you have a good understanding of what valve tags are, where they can be used, and some other details about them, it is time to start working on a policy for your facility. Every facility is going to be unique in what needs they have in this area.
If you have a lot of different valves, for example, your policy will be much more complex than a company that only has a couple of different pipes. The important thing is that you think this process through, follow proven standards, and make sure everyone in your facility is aware of the policy. From there, you just need to buy or create the valve tags you need and get them installed.
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- Improving Lean in the Workplace– leanworkplace.com