Visual cues are a must for warehouses creating a visual workplace and can reduce delays, prevent accidents, and create a more efficient, safe environment. The best visual communication tools are reliable and durable, and provide clear, concise instructions so time isn’t wasted searching for items, asking for information, or correcting mistakes. Warehouse color coding and 5S labeling, plus informative floor signs, tape, or other visual aids take little or no training to interpret and lead to a productive visual workplace.
What Is a Visual Workplace?
The visual workplace refers to a warehouse or other industrial location that uses floor signs, tape, and other cues to provide information, regulate safety protocols, organize equipment, and manage processes and people. Both OSHA compliance and productivity can improve by prioritizing visual safety and adopting stronger visual cues and color-coding techniques.
Explore these ideas to find more ways to improve the visuals in your workplace, whether you’re implementing a new communication system or adjusting your current signage.
Improve Organization With 5S Floor Markings
Using 5S methodology to guide your warehouse visual management can help you make your shop floor orderly and eliminate clutter so your workplace is safe and productive. Not only do organized workstations improve efficiency, but adhering to 5S standards helps improve compliance with OSHA’s requirements for shop floors, storage, and housekeeping.
The OSHA regulations for Walking-Working Surfaces¹ state that all places of employment, passageways, storerooms, service rooms, and walking-working surfaces must be kept clean, orderly, and sanitary.
The standard for Material Handling and Storage² states that bags, containers, bundles, and storage materials stored in tiers shall be stacked, blocked, and interlocked at a limited height so they are stable and secure. The regulations also require housekeeping of these storage locations to keep them free of non-essentials and clutter that may result in hazards from tripping, fire, explosion, or pest harborage.
Adopting the 5S organization for sorting and storing supplies gives you a system to locate tools and equipment on your shop floor, identify and eliminate extra items, and standardize this process so it is repeatable. Our 5S floor marking tape and signs help you achieve warehouse organization and meet the OSHA requirements for storage and work areas. Using color-coded lines to mark pallet corners, forklift parking assignments, and create grids for container or equipment locations makes it clear when items are out of place, and labeling storage locations with signage for everything from mop buckets to ladders and carts allows you to find what you need without searching. With supplies put away, workstations and aisles are clean and orderly, navigation is more efficient, and it is easier to maintain compliance with OSHA regulations.
Enhance Color Coding for Improved Accountability & Safety
Color is a big player in creating a visual workplace that is safe and efficient. Displaying self-explanatory floor markings in predetermined colors communicates information at a glance and allows staff to take ownership of their own safety to avoid hazards, exercise caution, and wear the appropriate protective devices.
OSHA only designates red and yellow as safety colors for marking physical hazards³, but adopting a coordinated color-marking system beyond these requirements can improve awareness of risks and boost productivity. First, make sure you’re compliant with appropriate color combinations as designated by OSHA regulations and ANSI standards, and then implement additional color cues to complete your visual workplace. Here are ideas for color-coding floor markings to improve employee production and autonomy:
- Indicate zones where PPE compliance is required
- Mark and separate workflows to prevent congestion and collisions
- Improve product identification with color-coded bins for vendor or status
- Outline the most efficient routes and delineate by pedestrian and forklift traffic
- Color-code inventory locations where manual lifting or transport isn’t permitted
No two facilities run exactly the same: Conduct research and consult with employees, supervisors, and industry pros to discover which color-coding system that works best in your visual workplace.
Design Signs With Custom Graphics & Text
We manufacture durable custom tape and floor signs to convey messages that aren’t possible through color alone. These signs and floor tape can use icons, graphics, text, or a combination to provide information pertaining to traffic speeds, clearance heights or widths, weight limits, and directional cues.
Some of these communications, such as clearance limits², are required by OSHA, while others, such as speed limit signs, are only recommended. Other visual cues—such as traffic direction and bin markings—are not regulated by safety organizations, but improve overall efficiency and communication. Address required and recommended regulations, plus cover areas without requirements with tailored floor signs. These tools give everyone working in the warehouse the information they need to make smart, informed decisions, and the visuals reduce confusion among employees, visitors, and vendors navigating your facility.
For non-employees or new staff members not yet trained in the warehouse color-coding or floor marking system, signs with custom safety icons, directional arrows, and text can fill in any gaps in understanding to keep people out of harm’s way and improve traffic flow. Use these ideas for custom signs and tape to meet or exceed OSHA safety requirements:
- Posted speed limit signs for forklifts and machine traffic
- Designate footpaths and places to stand with footprint-shaped floor markers
- Direct guests by using text for “Check In This Way” or “Please Keep Right” on floor tape arrows
- Mark dock lanes with custom freight or carrier names
- Create custom bilingual signage to support a diverse workforce
Manage Navigation & Traffic With Floor Tape
Floor marking tape is a key visual cue for showing the most efficient navigation and improving traffic safety throughout your warehouse. Keeping aisles and passageways open and unobstructed makes it obvious when hazards are in the path so blockages can be avoided and removed, and clearly marking aisles alerts employees to which walkways are frequently used to discourage employees from congregating in these areas, preventing collisions and traffic backups.
Maintaining these appropriately marked, uncluttered passageways isn’t just a best practice for visual safety in the workplace, it is required by OSHA’s regulations for Material Handling and Storage² and standards for Walking-Working Surfaces¹. Our heavy-duty floor marking tape withstands forklift traffic, cleaning machines, and chemicals for long-lasting visual cues.
Improve warehouse traffic flow and safety with visual cues in aisles and passageways starting with these ideas:
- Post arrow floor markers clearly mark traffic patterns
- Use hazard floor tape to bring attention to dangerous areas
- Improve unclear intersections with traffic floor markers
- Color-code paths by the users (employees, visitors, production, shipping, forklifts, etc.)
- Designate no-machinery zones with repeat message floor tape
Boost Visuals for Emergency Exits & Safety Equipment
Facility safety relies on sensible organization and visual cues to keep equipment and exits clear and hazards obvious and avoidable. Not only does a blocked exit or unmarked fire extinguisher jeopardize employee safety, but it also leaves your facility at risk of hefty fines for OSHA violations.
The OSHA standard for Exit Routes and Emergency Planning⁴ states exit routes must be free and unobstructed and the route should not lead toward high-hazard areas unless shields are in place. OSHA’s Medical and First Aid⁵ regulations state that adequate first aid supplies shall be readily available, and facilities such as eyewash stations shall be provided for immediate use.
Being in compliance requires a clear, carefully marked path and highly visible identification for each first aid station, fire extinguisher, and electrical panel. Our durable, removable, pre-cut floor marking kits are effective visual cues in safety communication for highlighting equipment and designating locations that must be kept clear. Boost on-site visual communication with kits for:
- Eye Wash Stations
- Electrical Panels
- Fire Extinguishers
- First Aid Kits
- Safety Data Sheets
- AED Equipment
- Egress Routes
Safety extends beyond emergency situations, too. Prominent visual cues can raise awareness of physical hazards during your day-to-day operations to help prevent slips, trips, falls, and other workplace injuries. Select our premade floor signs to find solutions to remind employees to watch their steps, look out for PITs, wear protective goggles, and other directives.
When your workplace communication includes easily understood visuals to complement traffic patterns, labeling systems, and workflows, your productivity and safety can benefit. There is no one-size-fits-all solution—that’s why we offer custom printing options and a variety of floor sign materials to support any area of your business. Find more information about warehouse organization and how to make safety improvements in industrial facilities in our Resource Center.