ISO 20560

What is ISO 20560

The ISO 20560 is an international standard which describes the safety information for above ground piping systems and tanks in relation to the contents and additional hazards for the prevention of incidents and calamities. The ISO 20560 consists of two parts;

ISO 20560-1 Safety information for contents of pipelines and tanks – Part 1: Pipelines
ISO 20560-2 Safety information for contents of pipelines and tanks – Part 2: Tanks

The ISO 20560-1 provides a scope, strategy, background, and design and form frameworks for displaying safety information on overhead piping systems. In a nutshell, the ISO 20560-1 contains the implementation requirements for pipe marking. The marking of pipelines containing hazardous substances is mandatory from national legislation and international guidelines. Here the ISO 20560-1 provides a uniform, harmonized description and instruction for the realization of pipe marking. Recognisable visual characteristics, design and the method of application are described, such as colors for the substances transported in the pipes (medium colors), harmonised hazard pictograms in accordance with GHS, additional ISO 7010 warning symbols, flow direction indicators, designations and additional (process) information. The ISO 20560-1 is a complete manual for the realization of the uniform marking of piping systems.

The ISO 20560-2 is an extension of part 1, where the application is focused on tanks. Tanks and vessels containing hazardous substances must also be marked in accordance with legislation and regulations. This (draft) standard describes how the markings for tanks are designed and which elements they consist of. The application of medium colors from part 1 is an integrated option in the standard, which also shows the harmonisation and systematic direction of the complete ISO 20560.

The ISO 20560-2 for tank markings describes besides the use of CLP pictograms and ISO safety symbols also the medium designation, tank identification and tank capacity. The application of international identification methods of (hazardous) substances is also part of design compositions. One can choose to add the NFPA hazard diamond and a GeVi (Hazard Identification Number) and UN substance number. These provide emergency services with crucial information about the contents and properties of the substances stored in the tanks.

Why is there ISO 20560

The ISO 20560 exists to convey information in a harmonized and uniform manner to an increasingly large and mobile user base. The continuous growth in the mobility of employees working on piping systems and tanks which may contain hazardous substances has shown the demand for a standardised safety information system. Visual communication tools such as pipe and tank markings that are widely recognized help to prevent errors and incidents and stimulate efficiency. To achieve this, there are ISO standards and specifically the ISO 20560 for pipe and tank marking which provide a standard guideline for global application.

“Continuous growth in mobility of labour has resulted in a need to standardize safety information and form a coherent system for non-verbal exchange of information that consists of distinct elements to identify hazards related to the content of piping systems and tanks” – ISO 20560-1:2020

Who is the ISO 20560 for?

The ISO 20560 is for owners and operators of installations and processes which contain piping and tanks above ground. The responsibility for the provision of safety markings lies with these parties. Because this standard is built as a safety information system, it is also functional for policy makers, enforcers and safety managers and officials. The use of safety yellow alone as a standard warning element in pipelines containing hazardous materials and the strong visual effect of markings underpin the use of the ISO 20560 for safety managers.

What does ISO 20560 mean for you

The ISO 20560 means the possibility for you to realize a standardized, global safety information system on piping systems and tanks. If pipe and tank marking is not (completely) present, the ISO 20560 gives the most complete framework for implementation, in combination with the ISO/TS 20559 (Guideline for the development and use of a safety signalling system).

If pipe marking and tank marking are present on site, there is a chance that the (national) standards on which the implementation is based have expired or have been replaced by the ISO 20560. If the signalling system present is complete, an instruction may suffice for any differences with the ISO 20560. If the system is incomplete, the ISO 20560 is the recommended standard for replacing markings present and extending missing markings. If two different systems are used at 1 location this can lead to undesirable situations, mistakes and incidents.

The ISO 20560 with its elements also offers the possibility to operate and maintain installations more efficiently. In addition to the standard elements, process information can be added which together lead to a fast identification of the process. This means concretely less searching and a smaller chance of mistakes and incidents.

ISO 20560 and Blomsma Signs & Safety

The ISO 20560 and Blomsma Signs & Safety are closely linked. In a plenary meeting of the umbrella ISO committee on graphic symbols, Blomsma launched the idea for an international standard for pipe and tank marking in a presentation. With labor migration, aging installations, the introduction of GHS regulations and the lack of an international standard as a foundation for a standard to be developed. All participating committee members representing the international community understood this need. After a first draft, it was decided to form a technical committee to develop this standard. Blomsma represented the Netherlands in the role of chairman and one expert committee member. Together with the filling in of committee members from other countries, the ISO 20560 has grown to its current form. The committee members have discussed all concepts and stages with relevant industry federations and stakeholders on a national level.

Getting started with ISO 20560

Do you also want to get started with pipe marking according to ISO 20560-1 and tank marking according to ISO 25060-2? Blomsma Signs & Safety provides the realisation of markings according to these standards in new construction projects and on existing sites. With the combination of our knowledge of the standard, our vision of pragmatic visual communication, dedicated engineers, trained Safety Sign Installers and material knowledge of sign applications, we relieve our clients. We help to provide simple and complex installations with the required markings, durable, visible and professional.

The ISO 20560 is available at:

ISO: https://www.iso.org/standard/71570.html

Beuth: https://www.en-standard.eu/iso-20560-1-safety-information-for-the-content-of-piping-systems-and-tanks-part-1-piping-systems/

NEN: https://www.nen.nl/nen-iso-20560-1-2020-en-276426


  • ISO 20560-1 Part 1: Pipelines (pipeline marking)
  • ISO 20560-2 Part 2: Tanks (tank marking)
  • International standard, harmonisation and uniformity
  • ISO 20560 is a safety information system
  • For owners and operators of installations and processes with pipelines and tanks
  • Detailed elaboration for (inter)national legislation
  • To prevent errors and incidents
  • Helps in efficient operation and maintenance of installations
  • Blomsma realises complete implementation of ISO 20560 markings