Workplace safety should never be an afterthought. That’s why OSHA regulations can carry hefty fines for non-compliance. Avoiding penalties and fines means more than simply implementing OSHA-mandated procedures and protocols—it also requires that staff follow the regulations. Because the employer is usually held responsible for OSHA violations, it’s best to provide employees with a solid foundation for following the safety rules.
What Does it Mean to be OSHA-Compliant?
To be OSHA-compliant, you must create a safe workplace that adheres to the standards specified in the Occupational Safety and Health Act. OSHA guidelines promote safety throughout departments and divisions within a facility and cover such things as the fire code, exit and egress requirements, necessary signage, PPE specifications, and chemical labeling. In addition to keeping staff safe, these methods can improve efficiency and productivity overall: Putting safety first means less downtime due to accidents or violations.
Taking health and safety beyond the bare minimum can improve compliance, thereby avoiding fines. Follow these tips to go beyond the standards and improve OSHA compliance in warehouses and industrial facilities.
1) Know the Requirements, and Expand
When creating or updating facility practices, ensure you understand the safety requirements—then implement them in ways that work for your location. This may mean expanding your color-coding system beyond regulated color standards for precision or pairing floor markings with graphics and text for clarity. OSHA doesn’t require floor marking tape, specifically, but the standards do require particular floor marking practices and appropriate signage. Study workflows, hazards, and sticking points in your warehouse or production floor and use that knowledge to institute safety practices tailored to your specific needs. Use floor marking kits, highly visible signage, pre-cut directional cues, and other visual cues to ensure safety prompts and materials meet and exceed requirements.
2) Choose Long-Lasting Floor Marking Tape
Floor tape beats paint: With less downtime caused by replacement and no worry about messages being hidden due to flaking paint or scraped-up lines, industrial floor marking tape is an option with many benefits. Whether marking permanent aisles or temporary walking paths, durable floor tape applications ensure tape remains in place through heavy traffic, so messages remain clear for the duration. Our heavy-duty floor tape doesn’t wear away or pull up, so workers have important information at a glance. Superior Mark® Floor Marking Tape includes a long-lasting, pressure-sensitive adhesive but removes easily for adjustment, repair, or if communication needs change. This is a useful tool for flexible workspaces where needs may change regularly.
Floor tape also offers the opportunity to provide clearer, more specific information. Where paint allows for little in terms of written messages, floor tape can include text or graphics for easy to understand information.
3) Offer Visual Cues for Quick Information
Visual workplaces incorporate a variety of cues to create workflows, traffic patterns, and facility-wide processes. Implementing 5S or Lean Methodology in an industrial setting streamlines systems, improves performance, and boosts efficiency. One key factor in the 5S Methodology is the use of clear visual cues and messages, which aims to leave no questions unanswered. Using custom floor tape ensures your messages are easy to understand at a glance.
Text and Graphics Complete the Picture
Better than color alone, text and graphics make intent clearer so employees and visitors are better able to understand and follow the requirements, even with little to no prior knowledge. Keep floor markings from becoming a guessing game:
- Repeating messages or simple instructions with universal symbols and graphics provide safety information at a glance.
- Arrow- or footprint-shaped floor markings coordinate with clear text to designate paths of travel.
- Clearly marked borders and text that reads “Do Not Block” provides a visual reminder to keep areas clear.
- Minimize confusion by adding messages to door swing markings, work station borders, and caution tape—identifying the hazard allows for decision-making.
- Label forklift crossing and traveled areas to state right-of-way or stopping requirements.
- Ensure items are returned to the appropriate place—rather than cluttering workplaces and creating hazards—with floor tape and clear signage depicting what items belong where.
4) Make Compliance Easy
To ensure employees follow OSHA regulations, create a workplace that makes compliance simple. Aiming for the minimum required floor markings or signage may not give enough information to new hires, temporary staff, or site visitors. Providing clear instructions, creating workflows and protocols that complement regulations, and providing detailed documentation helps employees take the initiative in maintaining a safe work environment. Remove ambiguity in requirements so compliance is clear and specific. For example, when managing foot traffic flow, employees are better able to follow requirements if posted signage is easy to decipher at a glance. A color or pattern may still designate a footpath, but additional cues like text and graphics add an extra layer of communication.
5) Accept Feedback from All Staff
Giving employees a say in safety procedures provides an opportunity for everyone to take ownership of company-wide safety. The best way to find out what’s not working is to ask. This will help you learn whether needs change, processes are outdated, employees ignore certain requirements, or something is unclear. Create a system to accept suggestions and encourage responses from all staff members—then act on the information you glean.
6) Complete Regular Compliance Audits
Regular audits help pinpoint issues and can provide insight for necessary improvements. Self-audits and inspections can catch violations—before there’s an accident or you’re hit with a fine. Designate staff to perform evaluations, but consider a third-party auditing agency as well. An outside organization presents an impartial look at how your facility stacks up and alerts you to hazards or necessary changes. After a voluntary self-audit, work quickly to fix lacking policies: OSHA may conduct audits which can result in penalties if violations are found, so self-audits are an important tool in finding and correcting issues.
7) Provide Regular Training for All Employees
Training is a vital tool in improving on-site safety and employee compliance rates. There’s more to training than an annual re-cap. If procedures change or if audits turn up consistent issues, re-training is necessary. Create a company culture that values safety—it contributes to a staff that’s more likely to follow set procedures. Training opportunities include, but are not limited to:
- Orientation for new hires
- Training for temporary employees
- Regular training and development opportunities for current employees
- Annual safety refresher courses for all staff members
- Re-training after safety complaints or concerns
- Required instruction after a failed audit
Keeping the worksite safe requires effort from everyone, not only management. Encouraging safe practices that follow OSHA guidelines, ensuring every employee and visitor has the visual cues they need to comply, and regular training, audits, and adjustments can reduce on-site hazards and improve participation. While this list is a start, there are many ways to improve visual cues to reduce accidents and injuries on-site. Explore our Resource Center for additional tips on how to apply Superior Mark® Floor Tape in your facility.