Floor markings can help warehouse and facility managers provide emergency training for employees through regular safety drills and ongoing education. From fires to severe weather to chemical spills, emergencies in the workplace require quick, skillful responses to protect employees and reduce risk. This guide provides tips on how to use floor markings to reinforce your emergency response plan and supplement your training approach.

The Importance of Efficient Emergency Response

Large, spread-out environments, potential obstructions, and possibly harmful or hazardous materials all compound the risk associated with emergencies from fires, severe weather, or internal threat. In warehouses and industrial facilities, efficient emergency response is imperative.

OSHA Standard 1910.38(e)¹ stipulates that “an employer must designate and train employees to assist in a safe and orderly evacuation of employees.” Additionally, OSHA requires that employers review the emergency action plan—which is required for companies with more than 10 employees—when an individual is assigned to a job, when their responsibilities change, or when the plan changes.

Conducting Effective Emergency Drills & Training

Like many OSHA guidelines, the requirement for emergency drills and training is vague, which allows for versatility in interpretation to suit a variety of unique work environments. However, it’s clear that employers should maximize employee safety and increase compliance through regular training and drills for emergency preparedness.

Why Is it Important to Practice Stage Safety Drills?

Emergencies can occur without warning, and safety drills help employees respond calmly, quickly, and effectively. Safety drills promote emergency preparedness to improve employee and visitor response—which in turn aids rescue personnel and first responders.

Benefits of regular safety drills include: 

  • Continuous Improvement: During safety drills, employees can test and adjust systems for maximum efficacy, before an emergency occurs. This may help identify bottlenecks and improve overall response during a genuine emergency.
  • Shorter Response Times: Regular practice builds muscle memory, so your body internalizes how to respond in an emergency—which means employees who have practiced and are familiar with established protocols can react more quickly when required.
  • Reduced Confusion: Floor markings and visual cues can indicate each step of an emergency plan for a better understanding of emergency protocol. Temporary floor markings can be a useful training tool when streamlining emergency response methods.
  • Increased Employee Confidence: Familiarity with emergency response protocols, evacuation routes, and other safety practices means greater confidence when employees are faced with an emergency situation—and may provide the agency required to help prevent emergencies in the first place.
  • Compliance With Mandates: When you practice safety drills, you have an opportunity to verify that your markings, routes, and visual cues comply with local mandates and OSHA or ANSI requirements.

Floor Markings for Communication During Training & Beyond

Floor markings designate evacuation routes, provide training reminders, and clarify best practices to ensure employees are ready to respond efficiently in an emergency. Various floor marking types can help prepare for and manage an emergency. For marking evacuation routes or health and safety equipment, consider these primary options:

Floor Tape

Industrial adhesive floor tape is perfect for marking aisles, labeling hazards, and reminding employees to keep emergency routes unobstructed. Color-coded floor tape supports safety objectives by making it easy to understand messaging at a glance, reflective and glow-in-the-dark options improve visibility in varying lighting conditions, and anti-slip tape improves traction for better footing along the exit route.

Floor Signs

Install floor signs featuring text and graphics to supplement visual cues by providing additional context or instructions. Custom options allow you to communicate specific messages that are unique to your environment, including safety protocols, gathering points, or temporary reminders that are integral to training efforts.

Floor Marking Shapes

Arrows, footprints, and other floor markers provide clear, easy-to-understand directional cues to guide employees and visitors to safety in an emergency. Pair with floor tape or signs for maximum clarity.

5S Safety School Kit

Display the most common floor markings used in your facility with a 5S Safety School Kit, which is placed at entrances and exits throughout your facility. This training tool is designed to build recognition of visual cues employees encounter during daily routines. Using a 5S Safety School Kit ensures employees become familiar with facility-specific and industry-standard visual cues and their meanings to reduce confusion and wasted time in an emergency. You can choose from pre-printed, standard safety markings for training drills and to mark evacuation routes, or customize signs and floor tape to meet the unique needs of your facility.

Optimizing Floor Markings for Drills

During training, you may supplement standard markings with additional, temporary visuals. For example, place footprints and arrows along exit routes that would normally be marked with only tape, providing quick visual cues about the best direction and path of travel. Floor tape is easy to apply and remove and works well for training and drills. Consider these ideas for using temporary floor tape during safety drills: 

  • When using floor marking tape for training purposes, mark evacuation routes, assembly points, hazard zones, and equipment locations with a unique color to increase visibility and avoid confusion with existing visual cues.
  • Provide extra context during training with custom floor signs that can provide clear but concise messaging to employees. Spell out primary steps in a process, clarify safety instructions, or mark key points along an evacuation route according to the established protocol.
  • For training in municipal locations, schools, or carpeted areas, apply reusable hook-and-loop-backed carpet tape to provide visual cues and support training; it’s easy to apply, easy to remove, and comes in various pre-cut shapes and by the roll.
  • Use pavement markers to permanently designate the appropriate places for employees to gather after evacuation, as outlined in an OSHA-mandated emergency action plan.

Adequately training employees on appropriate evacuation and emergency procedures is required by OSHA. Strategic markings improve memory and understanding so employees are prepared for an emergency. For more on safety in industrial workplaces, explore our Resource Center.

Sources
1. https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.38