OSHA Floor Marking Standards

Since it is in the best interests of employees in industrial facilities for the workplaces to be properly marked with regards to their aisles, passageways and sections, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a series of guidelines and regulations for marking standards at warehouses, factories and other similar structures. OSHA floor marking standards are relatively sparse compared to more detailed discussions in other aspects of workplace safety management, but they are nonetheless relevant and constitute legal requirements in certain instances.

For example, OSHA has provided a few provisions of instructions for the marking and the minimum acceptable widths of aisles in industrial operations, which requisites are mandatory. The first is that a line should be used to designate the aisle, although that line may be any color or combination of colors as long as it clearly identifies the aisle as such. The line does not have to be a an unbroken line, and can consist of squares, dots or even icons, so long as the entire aisle dimensions are sufficiently covered.

In addition, OSHA requires that every aisle marking be at least 2 inches wide, and recommends an aisle marking with of between 2 to 6 inches. The width of the aisle itself, on the other hand, must be at least 3 feet wider than the largest piece of equipment that will travel through it, and in no case narrower than 4 feet in width.

OSHA is more liberal about color schemes in the floor marking materials, having utilized only two colors, yellow and red, in the past. Yellow would stand for caution, and thus, be used to mark areas where the likelihood of tripping or falling is higher, and red would be the identifying color for locating the fire extinguishers or other equipment that would be relevant to fighting fire. However, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), concerned with what seemed to be an escalating number of industrial accidents that led to permanent injuries and crippling lawsuits, decided to establish a uniform color coding scheme for ease of application and understanding. The results proved to be a resounding success, and today the ANSI method is lauded for being readily available for usage in industrial facilities across America. The standardized scheme makes it much easier to use than to have to specify with long explanations the types of hazards that one could encounter, or identify in detail the locations of certain objects. Though it is merely recommendatory in nature and companies will not be penalized for not utilizing the same, the OSHA has heartily adopted and endorsed the same, in the hopes that facilities everywhere will take it into consideration.

The OSHA/ANSI scheme covers every color of the rainbow, assigning each one with a specific meaning that either applies to general industrial facility conditions, or only to particular hazards that only exist in the context of certain businesses. For instance, purple-colored tape denotes the presence of a radiation hazard, and orange marks potential danger from machinery and energized equipment. Armed with the information of the color code alone, anyone walking through any such structure today will know at a glance what to watch out for, and what to avoid.

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