Floor marking tape (or safety floor tape) is a simple but effective communication tool and should be an integral part of your company’s signage and safety program.

Marking tape can be applied either to the floor or walls as a way to rapidly communicate information, create safety zones around hazardous areas, and highlight the location of specialized tools and emergency equipment.

Although it seems like a simple tool, it's important to get the right one for your workplace's needs. Here are eight important considerations for using and choosing the appropriate floor marking tape.

1. Create Safety Borders Around Hazardous Equipment and Chemicals

If your workplace has specific areas that require the use of personal protective equipment such as hearing protection, hard hats, or safety glasses, floor tape can be used to complement other types of signage. By strategically applying the safety floor tape, you will create an eye-catching, hard-to-miss reminder for both workers and guests to your facility (learn How to Master the Science of Sign Visibility).

2. Designate Equipment Placement and Storage

Floor tape is a great way to organize your facility and create a more efficient workplace. Whether you need to park a forklift, store small tools, keep production materials categorized, mark locations for trash receptacles, or outline specific workspaces, laying out floor tape will make sure that everything has a designated spot. This will reduce the amount of time your team spends trying to figure out where to park the forklift and it will keep tools and materials organized, in their place, and easy to find.

3. Mark Routes for Vehicles and Foot Traffic

Floor tape can be used to create safety flooring in busy, high-traffic. The tape can be used to demarcate a route for forklifts or carts, encourage the efficient flow of foot traffic, and reduce the likelihood of collisions (learn more about Forklift Safety for Pedestrians).

Floor tape is also a good way to mark out exit routes and make them easier to locate and follow during emergencies.

4. Identify Trip or Fall Hazards

In almost every workplace, there are inconsistencies in the floor surface. That's almost inevitable. Unfortunately, it can also cause workers to trip or fall.

Floor tape is a great way to caution pedestrians as well as remind users of stairs and ramps to take extra care. Specialized floor tape can also be used to provide traction.

5. Use Glow-in-the-Dark and Reflective Tape for Emergency Access

Using glow-in-the-dark and reflective tapes to designate emergency egress during power outages and low-lighting situations can be an important part of your emergency procedure plan (for related reading, see Muster Points: How to Keep Your Team Safe During an Emergency).

Besides highlighting exit routes, reflective tape can also be used to designate the location of safety equipment that might be needed after the power goes out, such as first aid stations, fire extinguishers, and electrical panels.

6. Choose a Tape That Suits Your Workplace Environment

If you are planning to mark an area with plenty of foot and vehicular traffic, make sure you get safety tape that is durable enough to withstand all that friction and impact.

Keep in mind that you may also need to regularly wash the taped surface or that it may become exposed to spilled chemicals or other products (see Top Tips for Preventing Chemical Spills in the Workplace for related advice).

The floor surface itself will also determine how strong the adhesive needs to be and what characteristics it should have.

7. Make Use of Floor Signs

Adhesive messaging applied directly to the floor offers an opportunity to communicate messages regarding caution or warning with a minimal amount of additional training. Bordering the sign with black and yellow floor marking tape will make it easier to notice and will alert workers to its importance.

And remember, keep messages simple and easy to read at a simple glance.

8. Keep Colors to a Minimum

While floor tape is available in a variety of colors and widths, the most important consideration is conveying information quickly and clearly. To do that, keep the number of tape colors to a minimum and describe the specific purpose of each color in your safety manual.

Although there are no specific regulations for the use of color, there are some strong precedents as well as preferred standards offered by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Generally:

  • Yellow tape is used for warnings and to designate aisles
  • White tape marks storage areas for equipment and vehicles
  • Red tape identifies potential fire hazards and equipment
  • Striped tape is often used to create safety zones

Conclusion

When creating your floor tape plan, make sure to prepare a layout map well in advance and get as much input from your team as possible. Map out your entire plan so that you can see how it will work right across your entire facility, even if the installation of the floor tape will not take place all at once.

It's easy to take floor tape for granted, especially after we see it day after day. But it should not be underestimated. It is a highly efficient and accessible way to communicate safety information and organizational systems.