OSHA Floor Striping Safety Standards

Why Markings Are More Than Just Decor

You work hard to keep those who work for your enterprise as safe as possible. Providing a proper professional environment is an undeniably important aspect of avoiding costly accidents and ensuring that people don’t get injured.

Like other employers, you probably take steps to mark safety facilities, such as fire extinguishers, eyewash stations and emergency egress routes. What you may not realize, however, is that OSHA also promotes safety improvements in an unlikely area: Your floors should have markings that help guide traffic and indicate hazards. Here’s how to use floor striping and painting the right way.

Making Sense of OSHA’s Stance

Like many OSHA policies, the agency’s floor striping standards aren’t defined in a single rule or regulation. In fact, the agency doesn’t explicitly state how factories, warehouses and other facilities should use different colors to mark their floors.

So how do you comply with standards that aren’t easy to pin down? As floor tape manufacturers point out, you may benefit from adopting a broad approach that accounts for the agency’s many distinct guidelines and rules. Of particular interest are federal regulations like:

  • 29 CFR 1910.144: These specifications discuss how to mark physical dangers with different colors. Although they don’t explicitly mention floors, they offer some guidance on commonly accepted marking color schemes, such as using red for emergency stop switches and yellow for physical hazards.
  • 29 CFR 1910.35: This regulation clarifies how OSHA refers to other rules concerning exit routes, like the 2009 editions of the International Fire Code and NFPA 101 Life Safety Code.
  • 29 CFR 1910.176: Although this rule pertains to handling materials such as mechanical equipment, it also touches on the need to mark permanent aisles and passageways.

Complying With the Rules

Even though OSHA leaves you with some leeway about how you follow the guidelines, uncertainty is no excuse for not having markings at all. You just have to be thorough about reading the rules. For instance, although 29 CFR 1910.176 doesn’t say what constitutes an “appropriate” marking, you can obtain guidance from the agency’s additional commentaries.

In 1972, federal regulators released a standard interpretation deeming that most aisle marking lines needed to be between 2 and 6 inches in width. This letter also said that the aisles themselves should be 3 feet wider than the equipment you plan to use in them or a minimum of 4 feet wide. Companies that manufacture marking tapes seem to adhere to this take on the rules since it comes from an official source.

Factory and warehouse floor markings do far more than just ensure worker safety. Establishing a system that makes it easy for your employees to do their work properly reduces the incidence of accidents that might damage your facilities. To learn more about leveraging OSHA floor marking standards for your company’s long-term benefit, contact Northern Flooring.