Taking the appropriate steps to check that your facility’s floor signs comply with OSHA requirements is essential to keeping employees safe and avoiding costly fines for violations. To do so, hazardous areas must be identified and properly marked using premade or custom safety signs—and our floor signs are excellent solutions. Before you deem your facility safe, you’ll need a firm understanding of OSHA floor marking standards to ensure compliance regarding the messaging, graphics, colors, and placement.
Learn OSHA General Industry Standards
OSHA uses the term “general industry” to reference workplaces that are not agriculture, construction, or maritime. When your business is a general industry, it must employ visual cues that comply with specific standards and directives. Whether you choose premade or custom floor markings, taking the time to understand OSHA regulations and ANSI standards is an important first step to ensuring your facility is compliant.
OSHA & ANSI Floor Marking Standards
OSHA specifications for Accident Prevention Signs and Tags¹ have frequent references to ANSI publications. This is because ANSI has developed effective, established standards for alerting workers to potential hazards and communicating workplace policies. There are several iterations of ANSI standards—1967, 2011, and most recently, 2022. While following the most up-to-date standards provides the best protection, ANSI allows old standards already in place to remain—but updates may be tackled as part of a Continuous Improvement strategy. It is important to remember that signage is most effective when thoughtfully and consistently employed.
Comply With Safety Message & Text Requirements
To achieve compliance, your workplace must choose floor signs that meet OSHA’s messaging requirements. OSHA-compliant safety floor signs must contain two parts: a signal word and a major message. Text must be easily read from a distance and be concise, yet informative. Following prescribed guidelines for signal words and major messages help standardize your floor signs to increase employee understanding and recognition, leading to a safer workplace.
Signal words on facility safety signs are often contained in a header area to call attention to them as an indication of the danger level. OSHA identifies signal words in these 4 categories:
- Danger: This is used when there is an immediate risk to the life and health of an employee that if not prevented will result in critical or fatal injury.
- Caution: This category alerts people of potential risks that if not prevented could result in nonlethal injury.
- Warning: This sign highlights a workplace hazard that has the potential to cause critical or fatal results if prevention is ignored.
- Biohazard: This sign identifies the actual or potential presence of a biological hazard agent on or in equipment, containers, rooms, experimental animals, or a combination.
Other signal words identified by ANSI include “Notice” and “Safety” which do not relate to risks, but rather, provide information for procedures, as follows:
- Notice: This sign type provides information that is not risk-related such as reminders to clean your work area or visitor check-in information where there isn’t an immediate hazard.
- Safety: The sign provides information for fire safety equipment or first aid locations.
The major message on a floor sign follows the signal word and provides context and additional information, such as High Voltage or Do Not Use. A major message may be provided by a pictograph, text, or both.
Use the Correct Safety Symbols & Graphics
OSHA-compliant floor signs with images provide a hazard alert to employees and can improve facility safety, especially when there are language barriers present. When choosing floor signs with graphics, the ANSI Z535.3-2022 Standard for Safety Symbols² describes four symbol types for workplace floor sign communications:
- Hazard Alerting Symbols: This pictorial should clearly identify the hazard and portray the potential consequences of a failure to follow instructions. An example of a hazard symbol would be one showing a forklift crash or finger pinched in a machine.
- Mandatory Action Symbols: These indicate actions that should be taken to avoid a hazard. Common examples are a personal protective equipment symbol, Keep Clear, or Pedestrians Only.
- Prohibition Symbols: These graphics show actions that should not be taken, using a red diagonal line to strike through a graphic representing the prohibited action. Common signs include No Pedestrians, No Smoking, or No Weapons.
- Informational Symbols: These communicate general information about a building, equipment, or machine, including safety conditions such as egress, directional arrows, or permitted actions, as well as operation notices or health, safety, or fire equipment locations. These are not used to display hazard or danger notices.
Follow Standardized Color-Coding for Workplace Signs
Floor signs should follow established color standards for uniform communications. While OSHA floor marking guides do not specify colors for floor striping, ANSI color standards may apply. There are 8 colors used to communicate hazards in the workplace: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, white, and black. Previous ANSI standards included brown and gray which are no longer specified as safety colors. Any text or symbols must be in a contrasting color to ensure maximum visibility.
Observe Placement & Installation Requirements
To meet OSHA floor marking requirements in your warehouse or factory, your signs must be installed as close as safely possible to the respective hazards (while also following any requirements for clearance) using an adhesive that prevents unintentional removal. Our industry-leading floor signs are easy-to-use solutions that comply with this regulation. The thick, durable floor sign material combined with reliable adhesive and our Beveled Guard Floor Sign Protector helps ensure your floor signs mark hazards without needing frequent replacements.
Implement Employee Training
Training is an essential finishing piece to complying with OSHA regulations for floor signs. The guidelines require all employees to be informed of the meaning of the various tags and signs used throughout the workplace and what special precautions are necessary. A safety signs training kit can help improve employee understanding, memorization, reaction time, and compliance.
Streamline safety signage using our pre-made floor signs that comply with OSHA regulations. They are designed for consistency, and the signs easily adhere to your factory or warehouse floors for quick implementation. Or, use our Custom Floor Tape Design Tool for the flexibility to write location-specific messages and select the graphics, colors, and substrate for the most effective—and compliant—hazard communication. Explore our Resource Center for more industrial safety tips and advice.