OSHA Floor Marking Safety

OSHA Floor Marking Safety

Oct 7th 2021

Whether you’re looking to increase safety in your facility, be more efficient or take your workplace all the way to Lean/5S, floor marking can meet the need. Workplace safety continues to improve, However, as with any busy loading dock or warehouse hazards still exist making it difficult for employees to work safely throughout a facility. Floor marking is an essential for a safe workplace.  Lines, stripes, and dots lining facility walkways can create order, designate dangerous areas, and reduce hazards wherever possible. OSHA has a set of guidelines regarding floor marking and how it can improve safety in your facility. can show you how floor marking can solve these facility issues in a cost-effective way. OSHA Floor Marking Requirements At its core, floor marking consists of lines and symbols, most commonly painted or taped on a floor, that help people move around a facility and avoid hazards. OSHA addresses floor marking specifically in its standard on materials handling and storage (29 CFR 1910.176). There it states, “Permanent aisles and passageways shall be appropriately marked,” though it offers few details or requirements. To clear things up, OSHA has offered interpretations expanding on these requirements. Interpretations state that: Floor marking lines must be at least 2" wide to ensure maximum visibility, though the agency recommends lines to be 2" to 6" wide. Aisles should be at least 4' wide, or at least 3' wider than the largest piece of equipment used in the aisle. OSHA allows facilities with unusual surfaces (including dirt floors) to use flags, traffic cones, barrels, and other similar methods as long as employees are trained on the system used.

OSHA Floor Marking Color Requirements

OSHA offers no requirements for specific floor marking colors; however, a 1972 OSHA interpretation states that lines meant to define aisles may be any color, provided they clearly lay out the aisle. That said, the agency’s standard for safety color codes (29 CFR 1910.144) offers some guidance for establishing a color-coded floor marking system. It specifies that red and yellow must be used for marking physical hazards. Red identifies fire-related hazards (including fire protection equipment and containers of flammable liquids), as well as emergency switches, bars, and buttons on hazardous machines. Yellow signals caution and marks physical hazards (including striking against, stumbling, falling, tripping, and “caught in between”). Note: This does not mean standard floor marking can’t or shouldn’t be yellow; OSHA said, in a 1977 interpretation, that “yellow lines are usually recognized as the most convenient and inexpensive way to mark aisles and passageways.” Beyond these requirements, employers are free to use whichever colors they see fit for floor marking, provided they use the same colors consistently throughout a facility.

Mitigating Hazards with OSHA Floor Marking

Now that you know the floor marking basics, how can it protect employees from hazards? Here’s a quick rundown: Separate workers from machines and moving equipment: Use floor marking to designate paths that protect pedestrians from forklifts, electrical panels, heavy machinery, and other hazards. Warn of hazardous areas: Keep employees safe on loading docks around dangerous equipment and around areas with exposed edges. Provide instruction: Let employees know where to stand (or where to avoid) when operating heavy machinery and other equipment. Improve forklift safety: Forklifts are fraught with hazards. Floor marking can establish pedestrian-only paths, keep employees away from imbalanced or unsafe loads, and establish traffic controls for drivers. Learn more about forklift safety tips. Keep employees safe in low-light conditions: Phosphorescent floor marking can help employees find exits and equipment in emergencies and other low-light situations.

Improving Organization with OSHA Floor Marking

Floor marking isn’t just a great tool for mitigating hazards and improving safety; it can also improve organization and efficiency. Here’s how: Establish traffic routes: Establish aisles for pedestrians and vehicles and direct the flow of traffic; doing so can help employees get where they’re going in a safe, efficient manner. Use floor marking in your 5S system: The 5S system aims to improve efficiency, increase organization, and reduce waste—all of which can be facilitated through floor marking. See how symbols, text, and floor marking tape can complement your 5S system. Designate storage areas: Floor marking can cordon off areas meant for inventory, PPE, hazardous equipment, forklifts, and other items. You can contact with any questions regarding osha or 5S safety standards.  We are here to help.  Office: (503) 362-7500 | email: