In industrial locations, all employees must know how to respond in an emergency situation. Appropriate emergency response is included in onboarding training and refresher safety courses, but staff should also have the support of visual communication—cues to share safety and evacuation procedure information. Floor marking tape, signs, and posted notices improve safety and emergency response, but the correct application depends on what’s laid out in the facility’s Emergency Action Plan (EAP) as well as OSHA requirements or other mandates. While these plans vary from facility to facility, our tips for choosing floor marking tape and signage can help improve visual cues as part of contingency planning.
What Is an Emergency Action Plan (EAP)?
An EAP is an OSHA-required document that dictates the procedures and actions necessary in case of emergency or evacuation. This comprehensive plan details worksite-specific actions necessary during an evacuation or other emergency and is used to educate and train all employees so roles and responsibilities are clear for improved safety in uncertain situations. This plan dictates which emergencies require evacuation, and when sheltering in place may be a safer option.
Beyond instructions for evacuation, the EAP should indicate how evacuation routes and assembly points are marked, including which color combinations, messages, floor marking tape, and signage are used.
Marking Emergency Evacuation Routes
When marking emergency evacuation routes, there’s more to the process than simply applying floor marking tape. Without a clear plan, markings may be confusing or ineffective. You must go beyond simply hanging signs or applying taped lines. Always refer to the facility’s EAP when applying or changing visual cues, and consider these elements when applying emergency and evacuation floor markings:
- Visibility: If floor markings or signage blend in with their surroundings, important notices may be missed. Choose contrasting colors or colors designed for improved visibility to ensure your safety messages aren’t lost.
- Communication: Instructions should be clear—there should be no ambiguity in directional cues. Arrows, footprint-shaped markings, signs that pair graphics and text, and other clear indicators improve visual communication over methods that only rely on taped lines.
- Organization: Mark “keep clear” reminders with floor marking tape to prevent clutter, tools, equipment, or stored items from blocking or obstructing evacuation routes so emergency procedures may be carried out.
- Consistency: Ensure the facility’s evacuation plan and applied floor markings match. If employees are trained to look for the red and black lines for evacuation routes, ensure the tape used is red and black—and that it’s the only instance of this color combination. If the same color combination is used elsewhere—for example, at a storage area entrance—employees may be confused and follow the wrong markings in an emergency.
Floor Marking Tape for Emergency Planning
While floor marking tape is used throughout industrial facilities to provide instructions or navigational cues, markings intended for evacuation routes carry additional requirements. Any markings used for emergency evacuation or planning must comply with OSHA requirements and the facility’s EAP. If the markings change, ensure the EAP and training materials reflect the new process. When creating an EAP or marking an evacuation route, these floor marking tape options may improve communication for better safety:
- Glow-in-the-Dark Floor Marking Tape: In dim areas or when lights or electricity are lost, glow-in-the-dark floor marking tape can improve visibility and help employees find safety. Glowing floor marking tape can be used to mark stairs or changes in elevation, walkway edges, light switches or door handles, or trip hazards or low-clearance in traveled areas.
- Traction Tape: Use anti-slip and anti-skid floor marking tape to improve traction throughout any industrial location. Extra traction is important to prevent slips and falls, especially during evacuation procedures when people may be rushing. Pay special attention to areas that may become wet or slippery (due to inclement weather, sprinkler systems, fire hoses, etc.) along an evacuation route.
- Shapes and Text: Shaped floor markings, such as arrows and footprints, improve communication and make it easier to determine where to go—especially in an emergency when every moment matters.
Other Egress Requirements
Clear markings improve communication and visibility, but there are requirements beyond ensuring exit points are labeled. To ensure an organized, safe exit in case of emergency, follow these guidelines from OSHA and other safety organizations:
- Exit routes must be permanent and lead directly outdoors or to an open space with outdoor access
- There must be adequate capacity and exit points to support the number of building occupants (determined by the International Fire Code)
- Exit routes must meet specific minimum height and width requirements: The ceiling must be at last seven feet, six inches high and at least 28 inches wide
- No objects may protrude into the exit route—mark keep clear areas with taped lines and floor marking signs to remind employees of the requirements.
- In addition to clear markings for navigation, exit routes must include visual cues to alert to the presence of slip, trip, and fall hazards; any dead ends or no-exit points must be clearly marked as such.
- In areas where floor markings are difficult or impossible to apply, consider virtual lines and signs to project easy-to-see messages—but consider the implications in case of power loss as projectors require electricity.
To keep employees and visitors safe, an emergency evacuation plan must be in place. This plan should include floor markings, signage, and other visual cues to point the way to safety, as based on an Emergency Action Plan. Explore our Resource Center for more information about visual communication for safety.