Factory and warehouse managers need to be diligent about proper materials storage to keep bins and racking orderly and prevent accidents and non-compliance fines. Whether you are looking to improve housekeeping procedures in warehouse aisles or need to reinforce proper chemical storage, floor signs and tape can increase accountability and make everyone aware of storage protocols. Read on to learn how to use visual cues to keep your industrial facility in compliance with guidelines set forth by the top safety organizations, including Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA).
Review & Sort Stock
Even if your racking appears organized, bins cluttered with miscellaneous goods subject to pest harborage or combustion are not in compliance with OSHA standards for Materials Handling and Storage¹. The 5S and Lean methods Sort and Sustain can help guide organizational efforts through continual review and sorting out-of-date or unused tools and equipment, which helps prevent items from accumulating within your inventory.
Use floor tape or a pre-cut floor marking kit to cordon off a Red Tag Holding Area to stage supplies that are in question so items can be discarded, repaired, or moved to long-term storage. Train employees to continually review the warehouse and workstations for out-of-place items and extraneous equipment that may go through this sorting process, and organize regular Red Tag or Kaizen events to further support this process.
Keep Passageways & Aisles Clear
OSHA guidelines mandate that passageways must be clear from obstruction and that materials stored nearby shall not create a hazard¹, including slip or trip hazards. One way to strengthen compliance is to create noticeable boundaries between storage areas and the aisles using floor tape. Floor signs with “Keep Aisles Clear” text placed at the entrances of storage areas can reinforce the rules. Visual cues throughout aisles make it obvious when inventory overruns the designated space and blocks areas that must be kept clear, and these taped lines help meet OSHA requirements for marking permanent aisles. Clear reminders help reduce instances of employees staging inventory in hazardous or unsatisfactory locations.
Maintain Hazard-Free Emergency Routes & Exits
To remain compliant with OSHA’s Exit Routes and Emergency Planning standard², do not store materials in front of exit doors or along egress paths. Visual cues for emergency evacuation following ANSI color-coding standards make exit doors and pathways recognizable, and remind materials handlers that these locations aren’t meant for permanent or temporary storage. To remind everyone of the standards and to keep exits unobstructed, apply floor striping or repeat message tape to prohibit equipment, tools, and materials storage near exits.
Ensure egress routes don’t lead employees toward hazardous materials storage. If this is unavoidable, barriers must be in place to separate traffic from the risks. Caution floor signs may be beneficial in these locations to communicate immediate hazards.
Promote Safe Stacking
OSHA standards for Material Handling and Storage¹ sets requirements for how items may be stacked for storage. Boxes, pallets, bags, or other supplies that are stored in tiers must be stable and secure so they do not slide or collapse. Custom floor tape can be printed to include height limits, and note required stacking methods—such as blocking or interlocking—to remind employees of proper protocols. Use L and T floor markers to define locations for approved incoming, outgoing, or storage placement of boxes or pallets: The outline is a reminder to keep the items confined and out of traffic paths.
Communicate Racking Load Limits
If warehouse racking is overloaded, it can collapse causing injuries and inventory damage. ANSI requires that warehouse owners prominently display racking limits near racking storage; this practice is commonly enforced by building codes for state, county, and local jurisdictions and can lead to shutdowns and fines if not followed. While RMI (Rack Manufacturer Institute) and ANSI are involved in the design, testing, and use of pallet racks, neither entity is required to provide the load capacity plaques per the ANSI standard MH16.1⁶.
Manufacturers may make racking load limit plaques available for purchase, but we can also print custom racking load limit floor signs for warehouse owners to install. Applying self-adhesive custom floor signs with clear messages throughout the warehouse at every point of system entry and/or every different rack configuration keeps material handlers informed of loading requirements and prevents racking misuse for better safety.
Improve Storage Near Fire & Safety Equipment
Materials storage must never block fire extinguishers, first aid kids, eyewash stations, and other safety equipment. OSHA standard for Fire Protection³ mandates the NFPA’s recommendations for fire extinguisher storage. This requires extinguishers to be kept at least four inches from the floor and no materials may be stored in a way that blocks access to this equipment. The NFPA also advises warehouses to use visual cues for fire safety such as signs with arrows noting where fire alarms, extinguishers, and hoses are located. OSHA Medical and First Aid standard⁴ states that first aid supplies must be readily available, and in some facilities, equipment for quick drenching must also be supplied.
Meet the guidelines for materials storage near safety equipment using visual cues. Our inventory of pre-cut floor marking kits for fire extinguishers, safety data sheets, eyewash stations, electrical panels, and first aid kits prohibit storage in these areas so access isn’t obstructed. Color-coded signage that follows ANSI recommendations improves visibility of health and safety equipment, even from a distance.
Follow Hazardous Materials Storage Requirements
To maintain GHS compliance, which is the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals, your facility’s Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and hazardous substance container labels must be up-to-date and accessible. Per OSHA’s standard on Hazard Communication⁵, the Precautionary Statements on SDS and chemical container labels should list requirements for compliant storage. Visual cues for GHS-SDS can streamline hazard communication and keep SDS stations visible and organized so employees have easy access to tools for chemical storage protocols.
Improve Safety in Combustible Storage Locations
Combustibles pose risks beyond health hazards—including fires, explosions, or other catastrophic events—if not stored properly. Cabinets where flammable materials are stored must be labeled per OSHA’s standards regarding flammable liquids⁷, but placing floor signs with specific statements about hazard type and mitigation method at the storage entrance provides a secondary reminder. Floor signs with standardized symbols for flammable or explosive materials signal what hazards are present to help improve storage and safety procedures.
In parking lots or loading areas, painting “No Smoking” and similar messages using safety stencils and pairing those signals with pavement markings ensures delivery drivers, staff, and visitors are aware that combustible materials are handled or stored nearby and what safety requirements are in place.
Comply with OSHA standards using floor signs and tape to keep everyone diligently following proper storage methods, stacking, housekeeping. Our inventory of easy-to-use, self-adhesive visual cues provide any reminder you need to go above and beyond what’s required. Start creating your visual workplace today using ideas from our Resource Center.