OSHA standard 1910.22 (Walking-Working Surfaces) covers OSHA's floor marking safety guidelines and includes the following:
- All places of employment, passageways, storerooms, and service rooms shall be kept clean and orderly and in a sanitary condition.
- Where mechanical handling equipment is used, sufficient safe clearances shall be allowed for aisles, at loading docks, through doorways and wherever turns or passage must be made. Aisles and passageways shall be kept clear and in good repairs, with no obstruction across or in aisles that could create a hazard.
- Permanent aisles and passageways shall be appropriately marked.
This is a very short and simple OSHA standard. In practical terms what does this mean? It's plain that if aisles and passageways are not marked, OSHA will issue a citation. But, what type of floor marking is required? OSHA supplied additional information in a clarification letter sent to all area directors. The letter stated:
The following are considered to comply with the requirements for floor marking:
- The floor marking lines used to delineate aisles may be any color so long as they clearly define the area considered as aisle space. The lines may be composed of dots, squares, strip or be continuous, as long as they clearly define the aisle area.
- The recommended width of floor markings designating aisles varies from two inches to six inches. Therefore, any width of two inches or more is considered acceptable.
- The recommended width of aisles is a minimum of four feet, and at least three feet wider than the largest equipment that will be in the aisle.
OSHA does not care what method is used for floor marking, as long as there is floor marking. The two most common options are painting and using floor marking tape. Historically painting stripes on floors has been common. But, advances in floor marking tape technology have made painting obsolete. Painting requires more time and expense, and may require parts of the facility to shutdown during painting. Using floor marking tapes, such as DuraLabel Supreme V, allows higher quality floor marking without inconveniencing plant or warehouse operations.
Where Should Floor Marking Be Used?
While the OSHA standard does not provide many specifics, it does say that "permanent aisles and passageways must be marked. What does this mean?
Floor marking should be used anywhere there are two or more types of traffic, or in any location in which there are safety hazards. The purpose of floor marking is to identify safe areas and to separate people from hazards. This means that floor marking should not only be used to mark existing aisles and passageways, it should be used to establish safe aisles and passageways that do not exist without the floor marking.
Floor Marking Separates Workers From Hazards
Use floor marking to establish safe pathways for workers to use as they walk through your facility. These aisles should be located so as to keep dangerous equipment out of reach, and to avoid, when possible, hazards such as high noise areas, as well as areas where other types of hazards exist.
Floor marking can also be used to mark off hazardous areas, leaving all other areas open to foot traffic. The areas marked off by floor marking tape are identified as being "off limits."
Whichever approach you use, OSHA will expect that employees to be trained to recognize and understand the meaning of the floor marking scheme being used.
Floor Marking Separates Pedestrians From Motorized Traffic
Whenever there is a mix of pedestrian and motorized traffic, such as fork lifts, floor marking tape should be used to identify aisles set aside for a specific type of traffic. In a warehouse in which powered industrial trucks (fork lifts) are moving around, and going in and out of rows of storage racks, pedestrian lanes should be clearly marked. All foot traffic must remain within the marked aisles, and forklifts may not enter those pathways except at designated crossing locations.
Floor Marking - What Color Should Be Used
OSHA does not specify color for floor marking tape. The most important consideration is that your use of color be consistent. Establish a floor marking color coding scheme and follow that standard throughout your facility.
A commonly used color system for floor marking is:
Yellow - used to mark aisles and pathways. Indicates areas where caution is required.
White - Used for general purposes such as lines around equipment and storage locations.
Red - designates the locations of fire fighting equipment. May also be used for marking hazards or for marking red tag areas. Do not use a color such as red for multiple purposes. For example, if it is used to identify the location of fire fighting equipment, do not use red floor tape for any other purpose. Instead use yellow and black stripped floor tape to identify hazards, for example.
Orange - often used for organizational purposes to indicate materials being held for inspection.
Floor Marking - More Than Lines On The Floor
Floor marking should provide all of the information needed for it to fulfill its intended purpose. For that to be accomplished there may be situations in which information needs to be printed on the floor marking tape. This may be striping to improve the visibility of hazardous areas, words, symbols or SKUs. Pathfinder floor marking tape may be purchased with the appropriate marking pre-printed, including custom text and symbols, or you may purchase printable floor marking tape and print it as needed using your DuraLabel printer.
Floor Marking - Non-Safety Applications
Floor marking also serves to help keep a facility organized and productive. Since this use of floor marking is not related to safety, OSHA's only concern is that floor marking used for other purposes, such as productivity and organization, not cause confusion and degrade safety.
Floor marking may be used to designate storage areas for specific items or types of items. It may identify machine locations, temporary lay-down areas, assembly areas, or the locations of emergency equipment.