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Floor Marking for Forklift Safety

By Lucas Wiseman

floor tape marking a forklift area

Forklifts account for 2 out of every 11 assessed fatalities, in the U.S., as reported by Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE). Preventing these fatalities and accidents related to forklifts is a good reason to invest in floor marking tape. Floor marking can create safe pedestrian aisles, prepare a facility for automation while keeping workers safe, and keep forklift drivers aware of potential threats. When selecting floor tape for a forklift-heavy facility, look for an option that can hold up to regular forklift abuse, pallet drags, tire skids and similar impact, like the RIGID series from PathFinder.

Floor Marking Tape Keeps Workers Away From Danger

floor tape separates workers walking from forklifts driving

Floor marking tape can create visual “sidewalks” to let humans know where it’s safe to stand and when they’re crossing a “road” that might bring them dangerously close to a forklift or other motorized piece of equipment. One of the primary benefits of integrating floor marking into a facility where forklift use is the norm is to separate the walkers from the drivers.

Moving loads are dangerous, especially to unprotected workers; so keeping the two separate from one another is the simplest, safest solution. The left side of an aisle can be for forklifts while the right is for all other workers, and this can be indicated with floor marking tape.

Floor marking signage can also provide textual warnings in the same way that a stop sign might in a neighborhood. Floor signs can warn forklift drivers of speed limits, what hazards they should anticipate, and if they are entering an area commonly used by bustling pedestrians.

Floor Marking Tape Is Easily Adapted for an Automated Warehouse

As warehouses continue to advance and incorporate automation, keeping humans safe from machines moves away from the plot of science fiction and into the world of reality. Tape-marked “roads” are a key ingredient of warehouse safety, as can be seen in this profile of Amazon’s automated warehouse. This visual separation is especially valuable in semi-automated facilities where forklifts are used alongside autonomous machines. Even the simplest computer-controlled vehicles can use color lines to determine where they are and where they’re going, but that does not make them as aware of human beings as a driver would be. With that in mind, floor marking tape is a versatile investment for facilities looking to evolve and automate. It keeps the people safe, whether the machines are being controlled by a worker or driving themselves.

hazard stripe tape for loading dock edges

Floor Marking Tape Directs Forklift Drivers Away From Hazardous Areas

Finally, floor marking tape can highlight areas that pose a significant threat to forklifts; particularly areas where changes in elevation might cause the load to become unbalanced and flip the forklift. According to OSHA, most forklift injuries are due to one of the following:

  • lift trucks are inadvertently driven off loading docks
  • lifts fall between docks and an unsecured trailer
  • persons or objects are struck by a forklift
  • loads fall while on elevated pallets and tines

Most forklift accidents involve tipping, falling off of a loading dock, or other problems caused by unbalanced loads and elevation changes. To prevent these common injuries, rely on floor markings to designate no-go areas, or use a specific color to highlight areas where accidents could possibly occur. Additionally, floor marking can be used to help drivers properly position their vehicles near loading docks to make the forklift’s access as safe as possible.

What OSHA Says About Floor Marking

OSHA’s standard on materials handling and storage (29 CFR 1910.176) says: “Permanent aisles and passageways shall be appropriately marked.” What makes a passageway or aisle permanent? This is up for interpretation, but if mechanized travel between points is frequent or absolutely necessary for business as usual, it is a safe bet that those areas should be considered “permanent.”

OSHA’s standard on powered industrial trucks (29 CFR 1910.178) requires employers to offer a forklift safety training program. OSHA’s standard for walking and working surfaces (29 CFR 1910.22) sets no guidelines for specific floor marking colors, but the agency’s standard for safety color codes (29 CFR 1910.144) specifies that red and yellow must be used for marking hazards. For a full analysis of OSHA regulations and guidelines regarding floor marking, see our comprehensive Floor Marking Guide.

best floor tape for forklifts and warehousesFloor marking lines should be 2" to 6" wide; any width of 2" or more is acceptable for ensuring maximum visibility. Graphic Products offers the PathFinder line of floor marking tape, which is available in up to 6" widths. The extra width provides two benefits: more visibility and slightly increased durability. The wider floor tapes tend to adhere better to the ground due to the increased surface area for the adhesive to bond to, though this is not always the case in all facilities.

Choose The Best Floor Marking Tape for Forklifts

For maximum longevity and durability when choosing floor marking tape, Graphic Products recommends RIGID floor making tape from the PathFinder line. It was built specifically to stand up to forklift traffic and includes several features that make it the perfect choice:

  • Unrivaled Durability: RIGID stands up to pallet drags, tire skids, and rapid forklift turns without breaking a sweat
  • Beveled Edge: a slanted edge helps by preventing forklifts and moved items from snagging.
  • Low Profile: 30 mil thickness ensures floor tape does not become a tripping hazard.
  • Heavy Duty: resistant to water and most chemicals, it can be used indoors or out.
  • Easy to Install: easy-to-peel liners and quick curing adhesive make installation a snap.
  • Removes Cleanly: the rubber based adhesive removes easily and cleanly with minimal to no residue.
  • Variety: various solid-color and hazard stripe colors to choose from plus available in shapes like circles, corners, Ts and footprints.

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