Safety is always a hot topic around the workplace, especially one where the potential for injury is high. The problem with most of these discussions is that they often result in a whole lot of talking and very little action. A common overlooked item that could help solve a lot of safety issues discussed, is safety floor tape.
Why Safety Floor Tape?
Safety floor tape is one of the most effective visual aids that a workplace can install to keep their employees safe and where they’re supposed to be. When floors are clearly marked, it leaves nothing to the imagination, meaning no one has to ask where they are supposed to be or go. This not only keeps people in safe locations, but also helps increase efficiency.
Where this discussion falls flat in most instances is when management has to decide where to start. Installing safety floor tape does take a bit of careful planning and designing, but it’s not rocket science. The benefits that a properly designed facility floor has to offer, far outweigh the work that goes into it. To help you get over the hump, here are a few suggestions where safety floor tape has worked in other places:
This should be your number one priority when installing safety floor tape. There’s a reason our roads are marked, our freeways have lanes marked in them and our parking lots have clearly marked spots to park (even though that still doesn’t help some). We are used to direction while in motion and the workplace is no different.
When you mark your floors with safety floor tape, you add familiarity to the workplace. You make the flow of traffic feel natural, leaving little doubt to even the first time visitor, of where to be. Traditionally, most facilities use yellow to mark their pathways. This keeps that familiarity going when connecting the roadways with the pathways at work.
Once you have marked your pathways with safety floor tape, you need to implement rules to make sure everyone understands their importance. Much like we have rules to obey on the road, you should have rules in place that address your pathways.
Mark equipment locations
Whether it moves or not, everything should have a home. You can use safety floor tape to mark the home of all your equipment so that everyone knows where it goes. Here are some basic, but important items that you may or may not have in your facility that you can use safety floor tape to mark off:
- Pallet/pallet jack locations
- Forklift parking
- Tool boxes
- Vehicle parking
If you’re marking off the home of a portable item, the goal is to have a dedicated area that an item can return home to every time. This will help improve productivity, because as long as everyone follows direction, employees will know where to look, when they need an item. This is a popular method used in 5S, which a lot of Lean manufacturing plants use.
Marking off items that are non-mobile, such as heavy equipment is still important, even though it may not move. It helps to alert one of the item and make them aware of its presence. For items like this, you can use hazard striped safety floor tape to create more awareness.
Safety floor tape shapes
There are tons of already cut shapes you can buy and it’s made out of the same high quality material as your safety floor tape. These are a great addition to any workplace. The shapes are available in different colors just like your tape and can help in many ways. Whether you’re trying to organize (corners) or trying to lead a customer down a marked pathway (footprints), chances are, there’s a shape out there for you.
As humans it is natural to interpret language in different ways. Different words and sayings may mean something completely different to different individuals. However, shapes and symbols provide a universal language that we can all interpret the same way. It’s an easy way for your organization to relay important information where it’s needed most and eliminate any confusion there might of been before.
But we already use paint
The debate between floor paint and floor tape has been ongoing for awhile now, but unfortunately, for paint, the battle is all but over. Using a quality form of safety floor tape to mark your floors has clearly become the better choice. Here are a few of the benefits that have helped make floor tape the clear winner:
- No more waiting- Floor tape takes no time to dry, whereas floor paint may take up to three days to dry before that area is able to be worked in again. This is a serious amount of downtime that will have a major impact on your business. Your safety floor tape is immediately ready for use, once it has been properly applied to the floor.
- No special equipment to buy- Installing floor paint requires additional equipment that is an additional cost to the paint itself. With floor tape, you don’t have to purchase any special equipment to install it.
- Durability- This is where the debate ends. Floor paint fades quickly and can be easily worn down by heavy foot and forklift traffic. Safety floor tape on the other hand, has added protection against heavy traffic and will maintain its appearance for years.
What are you waiting for?
When it comes to making your workplace safer and more organized, there’s no time to waste. Safety floor tape is inexpensive and about as easy to install, as it gets. The next time you’re in a meeting discussing ways to improve safety in your workplace, take the initiative and show off the benefits of safety floor tape.
When you walk through your facility, do you have more questions than answers? Do you get frustrated with the lack of organization and attention to detail in your facility’s procedures? Do you wish there was a way you could standardize work in a way that kept your facility working as efficiently as possible, at all times?
If these are the type of questions that keep you up at night, then it might be time for you to look into the systematic Lean process known as 5S. The deceptively simple approach is turning facilities into more efficient and organized workplaces, all over the globe. Regardless of what type of facility you operate in, it can make a positive impact — immediately.
What is 5S?
If you’re wondering what the 5S’s are, they are as follows:
Sort: (Seiri) Eliminate all the things in the workplace that are not being used and store them away.
Set in Order: (Seito) Arrange the items used on a daily basis so that they can be easily accessed and quickly stored.
Shine: (Seiso) Ensure everything is cleaned and functioning properly.
Standardize: (Seiketsu) Develop a routine for sorting , setting, and shinning.
Sustain: (Shitsuke) Create a culture that follows these steps on a daily basis.
The 5S approach is one that can completely change your organization, if it’s backed by a culture that believes in it’s effectiveness. It’s a process that will not show its true value unless each step is completed and continued. The 5S process never stops. It’s an ongoing routine that is practiced every day with total concentration and dedication to help sustain and uphold the culture transformation you’re looking for.
Benefits of 5S:
- Improved efficiency- 5S is a way for the entire organization to improve. It will keep your staff focused on eliminating any possible disorder by removing all forms of waste.
- Fewer delays- When everything is where it is supposed to be and placed in a manner that is as close to where it’s needed as possible, you spend less time looking for those items and more time actually working.
- Production time is reduced- A thoughtfully designed 5S facility will ensure that your workers are working smarter and ergonomically correct, which results in less production time in the end.
- Employee morale is increased- 5S is a company wide process that will only succeed if everyone feels involved in it. Allowing your employees to be involved in the process of organizing their workstations to better fit their needs, will get you the feedback needed for improvement and increase their morale along the way.
- Higher quality- Standardizing work flow will undoubtedly improve your quality, resulting in a better product for your customer and higher profits for you.
How can floor tape help?
To help sustain your 5S implementation, many organizations are turning to a color-coded 5S floor marking system to help their cause. Visuals are a vital part of any workplace, but especially in one that emphasizes 5S as a pillar of their operations.
To help set the foundation for your ‘set in order’ step in the 5S process, you can use floor tape to correctly mark and organize your facility’s floors. This helps create order and flow in your facility that is unquestionable and easy to follow, allowing the rest of your 5S implementation to follow suit. When you eliminate confusion, you eliminate waste, which is what your organization should be aiming to do, at all times.
There are many types of floor tape out there to choose from in a variety of colors. You should always be careful when selecting your color scheme and keep it as simple as possible, as not to confuse employees or visitors.
While there is no color scheme set in law, there is a basic widely-accepted color code recommendation that complies with any interpretation of OSHA or ANSI codes. It is as follows:
- Yellow: Aisleways and traffic lanes; ‘paths of egress;’ work cells
- White: Production, racks, machines, benches, and other equipment
- Red: Defect/scrap area; red tag area
- Orange: Material or product inspection or energized equipment
- Green: Materials and manufacturing; finished goods
- Blue: Materials and manufacturing; raw materials
- Black: Materials and manufacturing; works in progress
- Yellow and black: Areas which present physical or health risks to employees
- Red and white: Areas to be kept clear for safety reasons
- Black and white: Areas to be kept clear for operational purposes.
Do what’s best for you
Some organizations will choose to use their own color scheme, rather than adhere to the recommendations. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as long as it is clear and everyone understands what the colors mean in each application. A major part of your 5S implementation is creating a visual workplace where what should happen, happens, because of visual aids. So as long as you have clearly defined what your floor marking colors mean and everyone understands their purpose, your visual workplace will be effective.
Tips for using floor marking to increase efficiency
- Mark off all tool and equipment locations.
- Create visual cues to alert those in view of different work areas – ie: finished goods, works in progress, scrap, etc.
- Mark off dedicated areas like recycle, trash, and red tag locations.
- Directional arrows and/or guides, which help employees and visitors quickly navigate your facility.
Time for action
Your questions have answers, but it takes action on your part to put those solutions in motion. Creating a culture that lives and breathes 5S is not easy. The culture that you create is a direct reflection on you and the effort you put towards it, but this is the action needed if you want to have long-term success with 5S.
Combining a well structured floor marking system, using high quality floor tape is a great start towards your 5S implementation and easy way to show your dedication to the process.