Keeping employees and visitors safe requires careful attention to OSHA mandates and facility-specific standards, but improving safety is not a one-time task. Audits and adjustments are required regularly to ensure compliance. While OSHA fines are one concern, employee and visitor safety is the primary goal. Explore these industrial safety tips to help inform your facility-wide processes and evaluations and create self-check and internal audit checklists.
Protecting Visitors and Staff
Pedestrians—whether visitors or staff—must be given clear visual cues and easy-to-understand warnings of potential danger. Floor marking tape and signs—in pre-printed or custom designs—are ideal options to ensure hazards are easy to spot and instructions are clear. While visual cues go a long way to improve safety, it’s important to stick to required and facility-specific messaging and color standards for clear, consistent communication.
While not an exhaustive list, consider these points when evaluating facility safety:
- Are navigational cues, warnings, and notices clearly posted?
- Including, but not limited to, floor marking tape, adhesive-backed or epoxy floor signs, posters, hanging signs, door signs, virtual or projected signs
- Are walking/working surfaces free from any risks or hazards, including:
- Protruding objects
- Liquid, snow, or ice hazards
- Broken or worn stairs, ramps, or walkways
- Have all slip, trip, and fall hazards been labeled with floor signs and floor marking tape?
- Are physical barriers in place, where required (to separate pedestrians and traffic, prevent falls, provide directional cues, etc.)?
- Has an emergency action plan been put in place, with proper training provided?
- Have off-limits areas been properly blocked and labeled as such to prevent visitors from accessing dangerous spaces?
- Are first aid and medical supplies:
- Readily available?
- Clearly marked?
- Easily accessible (not blocked or hidden, placed within reach)?
Warehouse and Loading Dock Safety Requirements
Facility safety extends to the on-site processes, available training, and visual cues within warehouses and at loading docks. Familiarity may lead to complacency or missed opportunities for improvement, but ticking off items from a safety checklist offers timely reminders—and allows you to note safety concerns as they develop rather than after an accident.
When evaluating warehouse and loading dock safety, consider these items:
- Are all forklift drivers properly trained and certified?
- Have forklifts and other motorized vehicles been inspected as required and found to be in good repair?
- Does the loading dock include required visual cues, such as signs, reflective tape, notices of hazards, and physical barriers?
- Is the aisle width within required parameters (at least 3 feet wider than the largest equipment to be utilized, or a minimum of 4 feet), with aisles clearly marked using lines at least two inches wide?
- Do employees all wear the appropriate safety clothing and required personal protective gear, and is it in suitable condition?
- Have all tools, motorized equipment, lifts and carts, debris, and scraps been stored or disposed of appropriately?
- Where exits, first aid kit access, electrical panels, and other necessary spaces are concerned, are they free from clutter and properly labeled with “Do Not Block” notices?
Production Line Safety
Hazards exist throughout industrial facilities, but in manufacturing locations especially, the production line requires nimble, attentive, well-trained staff—as well as clear visual cues that clarify processes and offer warnings of hazards to prevent accidents or injuries. To reduce accidents in the workplace, ensure proper communication to keep production line staff safe.
- Have pinch points, crush hazards, and other injury dangers been properly labeled to comply with OSHA guidelines?
- If any processes have recently changed, have all visual communication tools been updated to reflect the new processes?
- Where Lean or 5S Methodology has been implemented, do the visual instructions match the process, providing clear instructions without adding confusion?
- Are thorough training and certification opportunities and refresher training options available and encouraged as part of an overall culture of safety?
Requirements for Emergency Exits
Emergency exits must follow specific stipulations set forth by OSHA and other safety entities, including but not limited to the number of accessible exits, available visual cues such as floor marking signs, door labels, illuminated exit signs, and glow-in-the-dark floor tape, maintenance and repairs, and clear emergency procedures. Check that your emergency exits comply by comparing to this list, and referencing OSHA’s guidelines for emergency exits under 29 CFR 1910.34 through 29 CFR 1910.37.
- Are there permanent exit routes, separated by materials rated to comply with OSHA guidelines for fire resistance?
- Are there at least two exit routes—more, if the building size makes it necessary—separated to provide a secondary route in the event the first is blocked?
- Do emergency exits discharge directly outside, to a safe, open space?
- Regarding the exit door, is it:
- Unlocked at all times?
- Designed to swing in the direction of travel?
- Easy to use (no restrictive devices making the door difficult to open without keys, tools, or special knowledge)?
- Is the ceiling of the exit route at least seven feet, six inches high, and at least 28 inches wide?
- Are exit routes clear of debris or other protruding objects?
Please Note: While this list covers a variety of safety considerations, it is not exhaustive—always ensure your processes, floor markings, and safety procedures comply with the appropriate standards and consider the expertise of an independent auditing agency to identify hazards.
While safety goes further than these checklists alone, regularly evaluating and confirming compliance with these requirements, as well as OSHA’s guidance, helps improve safety. Even better, regularly consulting checklists as part of daily, weekly, monthly, or annual self-audits can catch issues before accidents—or OSHA fines—occur. For more industrial safety tips and education, explore our Resource Center.