What 5S Colors Do I Need for My Warehouse?

The color of markings on your warehouse floor is more than just a design choice. Those colors carry with them specific meanings that help the people working in the area to stay safe. In this post, we'll take a look at what those markings are, who defines them, and what the consequences might be if you do not use them properly.

Bimbo Bakery; Warehouse; Pico Rivera (19-656) PF (7)

A Look at OSHA

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a part of the United States Department of Labor. It was created under President Nixon in an effort to reduce workplace injuries. OSHA is responsible for crafting and enforcing legislation designed to keep people safe at work. If you work in a particularly hazardous industry, then OSHA may plan regular inspections of your facility. Otherwise, there are a number of factors that could prompt an OSHA inspection. These include things like:

  • Workplace fatalities
  • Frequent serious injuries
  • Worker complaints
  • Referrals from other agencies

The consequences of not complying with OSHA regulations depend on the type of infraction you have committed. The agency defines 6 degrees of infractions, one of which does not carry any penalty. Punishment for failure to comply can range from fines of nearly $13,000 to fines of nearly ten times that amount and jail time.

OSHA has in place minimal standards that require aisles and passageways to be marked but provides little guidance on the colors that must be used to mark floors. There are, however, some standards that dictate the general use of color for workplace markings.

The Importance of a Safe Work Environment

Avoiding OSHA fines is certainly an important aspect of properly marking your facility but it is hardly the only reason why you would want to have a well-marked and properly color-coded floor. Let's take a look at some of the other benefits that proper 5S coloring provides, starting with the most obvious.

Fewer Accidents

The whole point of OSHA providing standards for color coding and requirements for marking off aisles and passageways is to reduce employee injuries. It's pretty obvious then that this is a major selling point for doing so. As an employer, you care about your employees. You do not want to see them get hurt. Proper floor marking is an easy and inexpensive way to help keep them safe.

Fewer Worker's Compensation Claims

This is a slightly more selfish reason but still an important consideration for business. Worker's compensation claims cost money. If you incur too many of them then you will begin to see an effect on your bottom line. Both the indirect costs of a worker's compensation claim and the increase in your insurance if your company has too many claims can harm the viability of your business.

Better Employee Morale

Employees likely won't consciously decide that they feel secure in your facility because the floor is properly marked. Most people probably do not think twice about such things. However, if the floor is not marked, they will certainly come across times when they wish that it was. More broadly speaking, having an employer that puts the commitment to safety and risk management front and center leads to better employee morale.

Quicker Response to Accidents

Should an accident happen, it is important that your employees are able to find the tools that they need in order to deal with it. This could mean something as simple as finding the quickest exist, or it could mean finding fire extinguishers or first aid equipment to help prevent damage or injury from becoming worse.

Increased Employee Efficiency

Although risk aversion is a good enough reason to mark your floors, there are other benefits as well. Well marked floors allow for everything to be properly placed into a designated space. In a properly marked area, employees will know where things are and where they are supposed to be. This means that they will be able to find what they are looking for more quickly and complete their assignments more promptly as a result.

The Colors

Now that we've talked about why you should stripe your floor, let's talk about which colors you may need. Take a look at the list of colors and their meanings below to get an idea of which colors your job will require.

  • Yellow - Used primarily for traffic control. This could mean marking aisles, lanes of traffic for equipment, or work cells.
  • Blue, green and/or black - Used for marking materials and components, including raw materials, work-in-progress and finished goods
  • Orange - Used for materials or product that have been held for inspection
  • Red - Used to mark defects, scrap, rework, and red tag areas
  • Red & white - Used to mark the areas that should be kept clear for safety reasons. 
  • Black & white - Used for areas that need to be kept clear, but for operational rather than safety reasons.
  • Black & yellow - Used for marking areas that may pose physical or health threats to employees.
  • White - Used to mark any equipment or fixtures that are not assigned a specific color.

Need Help Marking Your Floor?

Empire Parking Lot Services doesn't just handle the paving of parking lots. We also have experts on hand who can evaluate your facility and give you a plan of attack for striping it. It is important that you hire the right company for your striping needs. Although they use much of the same equipment, the processes for striping parking lots are different than the processes for striping a warehouse. The key to a long-lasting striping job that gives you your money's worth is hiring a team with expertise specifically in floor striping.

If your warehouse is in need of a quality re-stripe or needs to have striping applied for the first time, we invite you to call us at 714-633-0300. Our team is so well trusted in the field that we are often hired by our large clients to travel throughout the US to their other locations. That's how satisfied they are with our work, and will bring that same level of satisfaction to you.

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