Improving Safety with Visual Communication

There are many different things that can help to improve the safety of your workplace. One strategy that should be incorporated into any workplace safety program is the concept of visual communication. Visual communication is anything that you can do to convey safety related information to people in the area via some type of visual queue. There are many examples of how this can be done including floor marking tape, safety signs, colored lights, and much more.

When done properly, visual communication can convey essential information far more quickly than general training, using auditory communication, or any other method. This is why it is a key part of many safety programs throughout the world. Take some time to learn more about visual communication and how you can add it to your facility’s overall safety program.

Giving Floor Markings Meaning

Most companies will want to have floor markings to do things like segment off aisles, provide directions, and more. In addition to helping to make things better organized in a facility, floor markings are a great option for improving safety. You can convey safety information with floor markings by using specific colors, patterns, and more. It is even possible to get signs that are placed on floors so that people in the area can easily see them and respond.

Some of the most frequently used types of floor markings for safety include the following:

  • Aisle Markings – In addition to letting people know where the aisles are, floor marking tape can tell forklift drivers how close to the edge of an aisle they are, so they do not bump any shelving. It can also let stocking people know how far out inventory can stick out.
  • Swinging Door Warnings – When a door swings open unexpectedly it can cause people to drop what they are carrying, or just get hit by the door. Putting markings on the floor that outline where the door is going to swing people in the area can take the necessary precautions.
  • Ledge Warnings – Ledges on loading docks and other areas can be very dangerous. People carrying things, or drivers with obstructed vision, may not see the ledge right away. Putting warnings on the floors will help ensure everyone knows when they are approaching a ledge.
  • Pedestrian Crossing – Putting up floor markings that indicate where pedestrians will be crossing can help to improve the safety of the area dramatically. It will both alert drivers that people may be in the area, and remind pedestrians to cross only in approved areas.
  • Fire Escape Path – Using a specific color floor marking tape to indicate the path to the nearest exit is a great way to improve safety. You can even use glow in the dark floor marking tape to ensure it is visible if the power is out.
  • Do Not Block Signs – Signs that let people know not to block things like electrical panels, emergency eye wash stations, fire extinguishers, and other essential safety items will help people to be able to respond to an emergency more quickly.
  • Driving Instructions – General driving instructions for forklift operations are easily visible when put on the floor. This can include instructions telling operators to stop, go slow, travel in a specific direction, and much more.
  • Moving Machinery – If you have robotic arms or other moving machinery, you should put up a floor marking around the perimeter of the area where movement may occur. This will help to remind everyone to stay out of these areas unless they are trained and authorized.
  • Personal Protection Equipment – Putting floor markings or signs at the entrance of an area that requires personal protection equipment is a great option. This will remind employees that they need to start using the proper PPE before proceeding.

Of course, there are many other ways that a facility can use floor markings to improve safety. Floor markings are one of the most common types of visual communication used in manufacturing facilities, warehouses, medical facilities, and more.

Strategic Use of Safety Signs in the Workplace

Safety signs are another commonly used form of visual communication in the workplace. Of course, signs are used in just about every area of life. When it comes to the workplace, however, safety focused signs are among the most popular.

When using signs as a form of visual communication for improving safety, it is important that they are easily readable and can convey key information quickly. This is why most safety signs will have one or two main words that are large, bold, and in specific colors. This will let everyone in the area know exactly what the sign is trying to say at just a glance.

These signs can then convey additional information that can be used to direct people in the area to take an action in order to stay safe. For example, the main bold section of a sign may simply say, “DANGER.” Under the word danger, smaller lettering (that is still easy to read) will say something like, “men working overhead, watch for falling objects.” This sign can be seen and read in just seconds and provides people in the area with the exact information they need.

Safety Labels

Safety labels work a lot like signs but they are typically smaller and applied directly to specific objects. There are quite a few different types of labeling standards and regulations that are used in various different industries.

Any company that works with hazardous chemicals, for example, will want to follow the globally harmonized system (GHS) for putting labels on containers with chemicals in them. This system uses a set standard of pictograms, warning words, and other information. By putting this type of label on a container, all properly trained people will instantly know what type of dangers the chemical has and even how to work with it.

Labels are commonly used for marking pipes, marking valves, and much more. There are many places that sell pre-made labels that convey commonly needed information. Most facilities will also have their own industrial label maker so they can create the exact labels they need, when they need them.

Just like with floor marking tape, you can make labels using a variety of different materials. Vinyl labels, for example, are very durable and can be used even in wet areas. When it comes to improving safety by using labels as a part of your overall visual communication strategy, making sure that they will last a long time is critical.

Following Established Visual Communication Standards

GHS was mentioned above as one set of standards that can be used in your visual communication systems. There are, however, many other standards that can be looked to for guidance when creating your own visual communication strategy. Some of these standards are just accepted best practices that are followed by many companies around the world. Others are requirements put in place by regulatory agencies such as OSHA.

Even when a company is not required to follow these types of standards, it is almost always a good idea to at least seriously consider them. Visual communication standards that are followed by companies throughout a country, or even throughout the world, were developed to be effective. In addition, when following these standards, employees who come to your company from another company will likely have already been trained, which will make it easier to get them up to speed so they can work safely.

Training Employees on Visual Communication

While most types of visual communication are designed to provide clear and concise information to those who see it, people will not automatically know all the meanings. This is why providing your employees (and anyone else who comes to your facility) with enough training based on their position with the company.

Part of your onboarding process for new workers should include informing them of all your policies regarding floor markings, safety signs, labels, and other forms of visual communication. This will give them at least the base level of knowledge they need to react properly to the things they see throughout the facility.

Many people will also need more in depth training to ensure they can perform their jobs safely. For example, a forklift operator will need to know what all the floor markings that apply to indoor vehicles means. Investing in this type of training will help to keep your entire facility safer for years to come.

In addition to the initial training, it is often a good idea to put up reminders throughout the facility. One safety sign you could put up, for example, would be a sign that lets people know what each color used for floor marking means. This will serve as a constant reminder to everyone in the area. This way if an emergency incident ever occurs, they will have the knowledge ingrained into their minds so that they can react fast.

In the end, a good visual communication strategy can go a long way toward keeping everyone in your facility safer. Taking the time to develop this type of strategy, and roll it out throughout the company, may take work, but it is a smart investment for everyone involved.

Additional Resources