No matter how small they may be, breweries of all sizes must recognize the importance of proper floor marking and wayfinding. Startup microbreweries and established brewers alike may struggle with kegs, mash tuns, kettles, pallets, forklifts, and fermentation tanks competing for space in small, cramped quarters. The amount of equipment, combined with the workplace hazards they pose, makes floor marking and wayfinding a central component of a safe, efficient facility.
As such, it’s important to understand the uses and benefits of floor marking, rules and regulations, and common challenges brewers may face in developing a floor marking system.
1) Understand the Uses and Benefits of Effective Floor Marking and Wayfinding
Any brewery can benefit from a cohesive floor marking and wayfinding system. Here are a few ways a system can help:
- Organize workspaces of all sizes: Floor marking makes it easier to find equipment and safely move around facilities. It can also designate areas specifically for inventory and equipment (when not in use).
- Create pedestrian walkways: With effective floor marking, pedestrians know where to go and—most importantly—where not to go in crowded workspaces.
- Outline forklift and powered truck paths: Well-marked paths can help pedestrians and powered truck drivers work safer together. The recommended aisle width is at least 4 feet or at least 3 feet wider than the largest piece of equipment utilized in the area.
- Mark aisles and exit routes: Clearly-marked paths and exit routes can maintain order and usher workers to safety in case of emergency, and glow-in-the-dark floor marking can assist during power outages.
Once you’ve marked aisles, outlined paths, and created pedestrian pathways, what kind of benefits can you expect? Here are a few:
- Increase safety: With clear paths and visual communication, employees are more aware of hazards that might be present and may take precautions to work safer.
- Improve efficiency: Wayfinding can establish clear navigational routes, which in turn help employees quickly find their way around a facility.
- Enhance organization: Floor marking can clearly outline where certain pieces of equipment (such as pallets) should be stored, making it easier for employees to find (or put away) items when necessary.
2) Know the Floor Marking Rules and Regulations
OSHA maintains basic rules and regulations pertaining to floor marking—the agency’s floor marking standard is 29 CFR 1910.22—but most decisions are left to individual employers.
29 CFR 1910.22(b)(2) states, “Permanent aisles and passageways shall be appropriately marked,” but the broader standard sets no guideline for floor marking colors, unless floor marking is used for preventing physical injuries.
That said, 29 CFR 1910.144—the agency’s standard for outlining safety color codes—notes that red and yellow are designated safety color codes for marking physical hazards.
- Red is the basic color for fire-related hazards (including the identification of fire protection equipment and containers of flammable liquids), as well as emergency switches, bars, and buttons on hazardous machines.
- Yellow, meanwhile, is covered in 29 CFR 1910.144(a)(3): “Yellow shall be the basic color for designating caution and for marking physical hazards such as: Striking against, stumbling, falling, tripping, and ‘caught in between.’”
3) Learn How to Get Started
Ready to implement a floor marking and wayfinding system in your facility? Here’s what you should know before you get started.
Floor Marking Tape vs. Traditional Paint
Tape and paint are the most common methods for establishing lanes, boundaries, and walkways. Here’s a quick overview of each choice:
- Floor marking tape: Floor marking tape requires fewer resources to install than paint—all without the fumes, drying time, PPE (commonly required for installing paint-based floor marking), and spills. Tape also offers up to five years of reliability, depending on traffic, exposure, and conditions.
- Traditional paint: Installing floor marking with paint can become arduous. Paint fumes may require employees to wear PPE, ventilation must be accounted for, the lines may take hours to dry, spills are a hazard, and installation requires equipment such as brushes, rollers, and drop clothes. Over time, paint can chip away.
Develop a Color Code
You’ll want to establish a color code for your floor marking and wayfinding system. One accepted practice is to match floor marking colors to your facility's existing color scheme for safety signage; this helps develop and reinforce a broader visual communication system that keeps employees safe and aware of recognized hazards. DuraLabel industrial label and sign printers by Graphic Products can help print labels and safety signs that fit your facility's unique needs.
If you're looking to get started, here are a few common industry practices for implementing various colors:
- Yellow: Signal physical hazards, as well as traffic lanes, aisles, and pathways
- Red: Mark emergency safety equipment
- Red and white striping: Identify areas where employees should keep clear (such as electrical panels and emergency exits)
Learn more about common industry uses for various colors in the Graphic Products-produced Floor Marking Color Chart.
4) Figure out Challenges Unique to Breweries
Breweries face numerous floor marking challenges that other industries might not encounter. Here are a few questions to ask while planning a floor marking system:
What Kind of Conditions Should You Prepare For?
Water is a key ingredient in the brewing process, and it plays a role in the important clean-up efforts. To that end, brewers need floor marking tape—such as PathFinder Tread tape by Graphic Products—that withstands wet conditions; stands up to routine cleaning and sanitization; and helps prevent costly slip, trip, and fall injuries. Graphic Products also carries safety mats (including a Polybacked Universal Roll and a Polybacked Universal Mat), ideal for washdown stations and areas where water regularly accumulates.
Where Can Floor Marking Come in Handy?
Before laying down an inch of tape, brewers should audit their facility to see where floor marking can come in handy. For instance:
- Are loading docks present? Forklifts and powered trucks transport pallets, kegs, and other equipment in and out of trucks on a regular basis. Hazardous boundaries may also be present around loading docks, as well.
- Are forklifts present? Most large breweries rely heavily on forklifts, so employees should account for their presence—and the risks they create. Depending on the size of an outfit’s brewhouse, it may make sense to establish pedestrian-only and forklift-only paths and work zones to minimize risks. Employees can also use signage to warn employees of forklift hazards.
- Does the brewery offer tours? If so, floor marking should be installed with public safety in mind; signs, arrows, and clearly-defined paths can keep visitors from entering restricted areas. You might consider PathFinder Non-Abrasive Tread Coarse Resilient Tape, suitable to heavy foot traffic where large crowds gather.
- How do brewers move around the facility? Keep the brewery’s typical workflow in mind when outlining paths and providing navigational aids. Think about their movement between various tanks, where kegs may be stored, where bottling lines are set up, and how workers transport beer onto loading trucks.
5) Get the Gear to Keep Workers Safe
Graphic Products offers a variety of tools and resources to help brewers establish and maintain a floor marking and wayfinding system, no matter the size of their operation.
Graphic Products offers a Best Practice Guide to Floor Marking that assists in setting up and maintaining an effective floor marking system. The guide helps employers minimize slip-and-fall injuries, keep workers safe with glowing pathways in power outages, and choose the best floor marking method for their facility.
PathFinder floor marking, wayfinding, and safety tape by Graphic Products can help improve safety and increase efficiency in warehouses and workspaces of all sizes. Numerous colors and materials are available to meet a facility’s unique needs.