Warehouse Floor Marking: Why it’s Necessary for Every Phase of 5S

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Floor marking should be used in every phase of 5S in a warehouse.

Yes, it’s true! Floor marking should be used in EVERY PHASE of 5S. If you are currently not floor marking in your warehouse, then it may be time to upgrade your 5S way.

A common misconception regarding use of floor marking in a warehouse is that it should only be a primary focus during “set-in-order” and “standardize,” particularly, “set-in-order.” I believe that’s actually incorrect. And here’s why.

Why is Warehouse Floor Marking Essential?

There are many reasons why floor marking in a warehouse is essential, including safety purposes, warehouse organization, communication, and visual cues, and much more. Here’s a breakdown:

Safety purposes

Warehouse floor marking helps divide spaces, highlight hazards, direct traffic, and convey important safety information. Floors should be clearly marked and visible, so employees are fully aware of what’s expected. Implementing floor marking and signage creates workflows that help prevent traffic collisions and maintain a clean and organized workspace, ultimately eliminating any possible hazardous wastes.

green safety image with checkmark
green image of an eye

Communication and Visual Cues

Floor marking is one of the most essential and common tools used to quickly and efficiently convey information to people in a space. With signage standardized in the warehouse, it becomes easier to convey messages to employees, like the meaning of the floor marking and signage colors, safety procedures, traffic directions, etc. 

Warehouse Organization

When a warehouse is organized and labeled properly, waiting time and excess inventory is reduced. It’s important to maintain an organized workspace to continuously improve the workflow process.  This is achieved with proper floor marking indicating the designated home for every tool, piece of material handling equipment, raw materials, finished goods and more clearly marked. 

drawing of a green warehouse

5S Floor Markings in the Phases

floor marking phases in steps with a woman laying tape

Sort

If you are just getting started with 5S in your warehouse, or already a practitioner, let’s look back at the beginning. First things first, you sort through the workspace areas to remove waste and unused items. This reduces clutter and creates a more organized workspace. Make sure to evaluate what tools and equipment are being utilized in workers’ daily tasks. Whatever is not used, should be put elsewhere in a designated location or properly disposed of.

Floor marking plays an important role here. There are two key floor marking tools – red tag floor signs and tape that clearly marks the red tag area. When an item is marked with a red tag, employees know exactly where to dispose of it properly. These will establish a central location where employees will come to know and use over time.

Floor marking and signage recommendations:

Set-in-order

Floor marking and signage are used in phase two, Set in Order, and proves to be invaluable. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for floor marking. Before you consider which approaches to use, you should map out your current warehouse workflows, figure out how floor marking can help eliminate time and resources, and utilize the floor marking tape guide to grasp the best understanding of your warehouses needs. Outlining the position of objects as well as marking the workflow ensures equipment and tools find their way back “home” and eliminates unnecessary foot or machinery traffic.

A warehouse with heavy forklift traffic where pallets are dragged can result in faster tape and adhesive floor sign destruction. To replace adhesive floor signs, we suggest using LED sign projectors. These are a great floor sign alternative because these floor signs are usually located in the heaviest traveled forklift areas, causing a frequent wear and tear. 

Floor marking and signage considerations (depending on your warehouse):

  • Warehouse signs – some examples are “fork-lift traffic,” “pedestrian traffic,” etc.
  • LED sign projectors – perfect for where floor signs are too difficult to install or won’t hold up in  their environment, like heavy traffic areas
  • Stop signs – used for safety purposes, communicates to the employees when it is safe to move
  • Floor and aisle markers – clearly marked areas and paths are essential in improving foot and vehicle traffic. This eliminates any confusion and brings a swift flow of traffic

Shine

Shine has two primary components: the cleaning of the workspace and the maintenance of the cleanliness. A clean workplace is less likely to fall to disorder, however, this is more difficult in a warehouse environment and cannot be done without a high team engagement level. 

At The 5S Store, we hear about a consistent challenge 5S practitioner’s face. Frequently in warehouses that use forklifts, two-wheeler dollies, and pallet jacks, practitioners find that tape cannot stand up to the traffic and the floor markings need to be redone. This is a major issue and that’s why we have special heavy duty tapes and the Floor Marking Tape Guide to avoid that headache of constantly replacing vinyl tape.

A great way to ensure floor marking stay in good shape is to empower the team to be a part of the solution. For starters, all levels of employees should be allowed access to floor marking tools, especially tape. Floor marking and signage should always be readily available and accessible so workers can fix markings that have worn. And, seeing the frequency of replacement can lead to more caution when using the heavy equipment. When everyone is responsible for the maintenance of the floor markings and the team is engaged with the 5S implementation process, the communication channel becomes stronger. 

Here are a few floor marking and signage recommendations:

  • Trash barrel floor signs  makes sure trash bins stay in their place.
  • Corner markers – sets in order equipment and materials like pallets, trash cans, handling equipment, etc. Can also be used to ensure safe distance between people.
  • Janitorial Supplies – most warehouses will have color-coded cleaning supplies, a chart indicating what each color represents is also recommended to minimize cross-contamination and confusion.
  • Heavy-duty tape – make the investment on tape to reduce wasted time on replacing the tape. It also has pressure-sensitive adhesives to keep the tape in place, while the tapered edge prevents damage from dragged pallets.

Standardize

An important fact to note here is that there is no set universal standard when it comes to floor marking and signage, besides the one clearly stated from OSHA, which you can find here. However, there should be a set standard for your workplace. Having a color floor marking standard allows your team to easily interpret markings and make quick, educated, and safe decisions. Developing a document for the standards implemented keeps employees informed. Everyone should know what each sign and floor marking represents. 

 Below are some additional resources:

  • Signage that CLEARLY states the floor tape meaning and color to serve as a visual guide.
  • Charts and posters – a simple visual guide to summarize the work flow, indicate where different work areas and equipment are, or to display safety measures.
  • Training – conduct frequent training to new and old employees to implement a standard practice across the warehouse. Regular refreshers are recommended for workers assigned to new tasks so it is done properly.

Sustain

It’s easy to slip into old habits and ways without proper evaluation and monitoring. A useful tool to avoid this and to sustain your 5S program is a 5S audit. This is a critical 5S step to ensure your warehouse is following the implemented 5S principles. Oftentimes, floor marking and signage are overlooked during these audits. If they are all torn up or need to be replaced, that should be noted in the audit. Or, during the audit, you may realize there’s an area in need of floor marking or signage. These 5S audits should be conducted regularly (the best approach being weekly) to create a continuous improvement cycle that keeps items organized and eliminates waste. Keep score and review the results to the group. This will keep employees accountable and will further enhance the 5S program and workplace flow.

Going Forward

a man scraping the floor with steps for sustaining

It’s never too late to start floor marking or revamping your current situation. When starting, it’s crucial the floors are ready to receive the tape. You will first need a scraper that won’t harm the floors and equipment in order to get the current tape off the floor. Once the floor markings and signage are placed around the warehouse, you’ll need to get everyone on the same page in regards to maintaining and understanding. Remember, 5S is a continuous improvement and making adjustments as you go is OK, as long as effective communication is maintained.

The 5S Store offers everything you’ll need to support your 5S plan. From heavy-duty floor tape to a stop sign, we’re here to boost your safety, improve workflow processes, and increase efficiency throughout your facility. For more information on floor marking, please reach out to us for an expert consultation or check out our floor marking tape guide article.

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