Improve loading dock safety in a manufacturing or warehouse environment with our tips and floor marking products designed to reduce hazards and promote clarity. Visual cues in loading docks help organizations meet established safety objectives and OSHA mandates, including keeping the area clear of obstructions and lining edges with yellow tape or markings to prevent accidents. However, going beyond basic mandates for loading dock safety will lead to a safer, more productive, and more efficient workplace in loading/unloading areas—and beyond.

Advanced Floor Markings for Loading/Unloading Areas

There are a variety of types of floor marking tape available for managers and operators of warehouses and manufacturing facilities that can help make loading docks and other loading/unloading zones safer for employees. Consider these floor tape types and application methods to improve loading dock safety in your facility:

  • Freezer-rated tape features a special adhesive formulated for temperatures as low as -10°F, making it ideal for cold storage facilities and external loading docks subject cold temperatures.
  • Floor signs designating specific storage places for forklifts and other equipment, goods to be loaded, and packages for pickup or delivery help improve safety: When everything has an assigned place, you avoid creating hazards with dangerous obstructions.
  • High-visibility hazard tape can mark potential risks or obstructions or provide important messaging in loading and unloading areas. Clear, easy-to-see borders create visual cues that help improve safety for pedestrians and vehicle operators, and color-coded high-vis tapes help you designate specific lanes for different purposes.
  • Reflective tape helps mark danger zones and makes hazards more visible in low-light or dark situations, such as early morning or overnight deliveries or pickups.
  • Glow-in-the-dark tape provides continued visibility during power outages or dim areas: Use it to mark the edges of hazards, stairs, railings, and elevated platforms to boost safety in loading and unloading areas.
  • Repeating message tape reinforces safety messaging at loading docks and in warehouses and can be used to urge caution, provide safety information, or remind employees of required PPE. 
  • Pre-cut kits can mark designated pallet storage areas, create a “Keep Clear” zone around safety equipment, or outline specific hazard areas with yellow/black stripes or other high-visibility patterns and colors that support your strategy.

Using Virtual Lines for Loading Docks

Virtual lines and signs can also improve safety at the loading dock. Crisp, clear projected lines and signs offer a variety of benefits. Even the most durable floor marking products will eventually need to be replaced, but projected lines aren’t susceptible to the same physical wear and tear from heavy-duty industrial traffic. Clearly mark traffic lanes and designated zones, even in dim or dark conditions, using virtual signs, or supplement loading dock floor markings using virtual signs to display important safety messages via custom or pre-printed gobo discs.

Customizable Signage and Communication

While our collection of essential products includes a wide range of signs, additional markings may be necessary to meet safety or productivity objectives. Our floor signs can be customized to suit the specific needs of your work environment: Factors from size, color, and placement to pictogram use and language choices influence how well signs will work in your facility. Ultimately, the top priority for any workplace sign should be message clarity. When creating custom products, keep in mind the best practices for effective safety sign design:

  • Color – Follow ANSI and OSHA color standards for specific message categories, including safety, warning, and caution. You can also establish a facility-specific approach that assigns specific colors to relevant departments or tasks, so employees can quickly identify which messages are meant for them.
  • Contrast – Pair bright background colors that stand out from the surrounding environment with high-contrast text and graphics—think black and yellow or white with green or red.
  • Message – Prioritize clear, concise messages that are easily understood at a glance. Use as few words as possible while still capturing the central point of your message; avoid overloading signs with text. 
  • Symbols – Supplement text-based messages with internationally recognized safety symbols for quick comprehension regardless of language barriers.
  • Language – Customize floor signs with multilingual messages for better understanding in locations where multiple languages are used.

Building a Safety Culture

Loading dock safety is just one component of a broader approach to minimizing risk in an industrial, manufacturing, or warehouse environment. Consider these elements of an organization-wide safety culture to understand how to extend those principles to your loading/unloading areas: 

Encourage Employee Involvement

A loading dock safety program is stronger when you include employees: Give them the power to identify hazards, propose solutions, and offer feedback, and they will be more invested in the overall safety strategy. Because they are present in your loading/unloading areas daily, employees can identify potential issues that might be overlooked or deemed low-priority by more removed members of management. 

Prioritize Ongoing Education

Initial employee onboarding should include training not only on your organization’s approach to loading dock safety—including established procedures and policies—but also on OSHA and ANSI mandates and how to identify and anticipate risks. Greater knowledge helps employees prevent accidents.

Pursue Continuous Improvement

Regular audits and updates help ensure visual cues remain effective in loading and unloading areas and identify strategies that can be improved to meet evolving needs. Consider data analysis as a key part of ongoing improvement and risk management, using accident and near-miss reports to identify and address potential issues before they occur.

Use these tips to go beyond OSHA mandates for loading/unloading areas to make employee safety a top priority. For more on safety and productivity in the industrial workplace, explore our Resource Center.