Locating an emergency exit quickly is essential for an efficient evacuation and getting employees and visitors to safety. Implementing the proper visual cues to mark fire exits, evacuation routes, and equipment helps to eliminate confusion and guide quick action in stressful moments. Learn how floor marking tapes and signage can support your facility’s emergency action plan (EAP)—a documented plan required by OSHA—and provide visuals to improve safety during an evacuation.

Emergency Exit Signage

Per OSHA regulations for Exit Routes and Emergency Planning¹, doors must be marked as “Exits” and additional visuals can be used to improve safety and efficiency during an emergency evacuation. These signs may offer supplemental information to prevent obstruction or to notify workers that an alarm will sound. Visuals that are color-coded provide quick recognition, and those with symbols allow for understanding across languages.

  • Mark Exit Doors: Displaying a floor marking in conjunction with a wall-mounted fire exit sign can provide enhanced visibility from multiple vantage points, including elevated locations.
  • Improve Sign Visibility: Apply glowing tape with EXIT or arrow graphics with signage along exit routes to improve visibility when smoke or air contaminants may be limiting.
  • Label Non-Exit Doors: Doors along an emergency route that are not exits must be properly identified using simple, clear language such as “Not Exit” or with its actual use (e.g. maintenance, closet). Find many pre-made safety signs to mark doors as “Not an Exit” or create your own markings using custom signs.
  • Prevent Obstructions: Employ visuals with “do not block” language or other keep clear signage to ensure exits are not accidently obstructed during daily operations. A floor sign provides an easy-to-understand visual warning and repeating message floor tape marks off a larger area that must be kept clear.

Evacuation Route Markings

To comply with OSHA regulations, egress lanes and emergency exit routes must be marked to indicate the direction of travel to the nearest exit. Floor tape and signs are excellent solutions for guiding employees to safety during an emergency. When marking your paths of travel, consider:

  • Traffic direction: Mark the travel direction to an emergency exit using floor tape arrows or footprint decals to create a path. Color-code this path to coordinate with route assignments in your EAP. For carpeted commercial facilities, carpet tape is an excellent substrate that strongly adheres to low-pile carpet to communicate direction with footprint shapes or with custom messages.
  • Exit Signs: Exit signs must be present along the entire evacuation route. Select signs with an arrow symbol to direct to the next exit sign or a point of egress around a corner. 
  • Path Safety: The egress path should not put employees in harm’s way. Implement safety improvements along the evacuation, including anti-skid tape on surfaces that may be or become slippery during an emergency (especially if sprinkler systems are deployed) or glow-in-the-dark tape for visibility on handrails, and along landing perimeters for navigation in low-light situations.

Exterior Markings for Refuge & Emergency Personnel

OSHA requires that an exterior refuge area be designated for employees to seek safety. The location must be out of harm’s way and not hamper incoming fire/rescue personnel. An assembly point is helpful when accounting for staff in accordance with your EAP. A proper, permanent marking is the easiest way to ensure your assigned refuge area won’t be obstructed by vehicles or equipment. To mark your exterior assembly location, use these tips:

  • Mark Outdoor Gathering Areas: Use pavement markings noting the assembly point in text and graphics. Ensure space around this area is kept clear to accommodate all of your employees as needed by marking adjacent areas with “no parking” pavement signs or custom striping tape.
  • Label Indoor Shelter Locations: When a refuge is designated indoors, mark the safe area with visual cues to direct employees to the shelter location. Clear messaging also helps vendors or visitors who may not be familiar with your site’s action plan.
  • Emergency Personnel Access: Apply pavement markings in designated fire lane areas or to prohibit parking; using red markings and text provides notice that the area is reserved for emergency personnel.

Properly marked emergency exit doors with diagonal floor tape designating a keep-clear zone

Signage for Safety Equipment & Storage

During an emergency, employees may be designated by your EAP to perform critical plant operations, operate fire extinguishers, or provide medical assistance before evacuating. Visual signage helps these essential employees quickly locate the necessary equipment in an emergency.

  • Fire Safety Equipment: OSHA regulations require fire safety equipment to be clearly labeled and color-coded in red so that it can be quickly found during emergency situations. Precut floor tape kits mark areas with “keep clear” signage while also alerting personnel to extinguishers or alarm locations. Floor signs with arrow graphics provide additional location assistance, especially if the equipment isn’t in the direct eye-line.
  • Color-Coded Shut-Offs & Stop Switches: OSHA requires switches and shut-off valves be marked in red, but additional signage helps ensure the employee doesn’t waste valuable time second-guessing when cutting ignition or fuel when a fire is detected.
  • Mark First Aid Stations: A clear, large first aid station or eyewash area symbol is instantly recognizable for quick action. Use a floor sign paired with a floor tape perimeter or choose a premade kit to cordon off the area to keep it accessible.
  • Equipment Storage: An organized, labeled warehouse prevents borrowed items from obstructing egress routes. Label the item and the storage location, and encourage staff to replace equipment when it’s not in use. An employee can also see that a tool, cart, or hand truck is in use at a glance—preventing them from wasting time locating equipment during an emergency.

Streamline emergency evacuation traffic flow and processes with floor signs and tape that includes informative messaging, coded colors, and recognizable graphics to provide employees and vendors with the necessary information to navigate your facility safely. Our floor tape rolls and kits and custom signs and tape— in rubber, vinyl, and mesh substrate options—improve safety through visual communication methods. Visit our Resource Center for more information on improving the safety and efficiency of your daily operations with industrial signage.

¹ https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.37