Aisle and Floor Marking Tapes Guide

Regulations and Standards

A violation where there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard. A penalty must be proposed and can range up to $7,000 per serious violation. A violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order where, upon reinspection, a substantially similar violation is found. Repeated violations can bring penalties of up to $70,000.

These violations are issued when areas where employees’ walk/work are not clearly marked to identify safe pathways or highlight dangerous areas. OSHA Standard 1910.22 dictates that all companies must mark these areas to prevent accidents or injuries. Beyond avoiding OSHA fines and protecting your employees, many companies mark their floors to enhance their visual organization in the workplace, marking locations in a uniform manner and color scheme that allows employees to quickly identify areas and potential hazards based on color. This can greatly enhance workflow in addition to the provided safety benefits.

Floor Paints vs Industrial Floor Marking Tapes

In the past, it was a traditionally normal procedure to mark lines and boundaries on warehouse and manufacturing floors with floor paints. And while some companies still use this method, within the last few years, industrial floor marking tapes have been developed which resist wear and damage from industrial hazards such as forklifts and chemicals significantly better than floor paints. These days, industrial floor marking tapes are recognized by safety professionals as the most convenient and inexpensive option to mark aisles, since painted lines tend to chip, peel, and crack, and need replacement - especially in areas with heavier traffic.



Although OSHA has clear guidelines that require marking of permanent aisles and passageways, they are non-specific as to what colors should be used. There are actually no current government-mandated standards defining the colors for marking floors. Earlier versions of ANSI Z535.1 Safety Color Code were referenced by some safety professionals to dictate floor marking colors for specific hazards, but in fact this section was intended for safety signage- and furthermore, the section was removed entirely in the 2002 edition. With that being said, there is a basic color code recommendation (below) that is widely accepted which complies with any interpretation of OSHA or ANSI codes. As previously mentioned, this scheme isn’t set by law, so it can be modified to fit the needs of specific facilities, and stands as a useful starting point for most applications.

  • Safety Red: for identifying danger and stop (examples: flammable liquid containers, emergency stop buttons, fire protection equipment).
  • Safety Orange: for identifying intermediate level (warning) hazards and hazardous parts of machinery (examples: machine parts which may cause cut, crush or other injuries, moving parts such as gears, pulleys and chains).
  • Safety Yellow: for identifying caution (examples: physical hazards such as tripping, falling, striking against and caught-in-between hazards, storage cabinets for flammable or combustible materials, containers for corrosives or other unstable materials).
  • Safety Green: used for identifying emergency egress and first aid or safety equipment such as safety deluge showers, gas masks and stretchers.
  • Safety Blue: for identifying safety information used on informational signs and bulletin boards; also has specific applications in the railroad area to designate warnings against the starting, use of, or movement of equipment that is under repair or being worked on.
  • Safety Black, White and Yellow or combinations thereof, shall be used to designate traffic or housekeeping markings.

Floor Marking Color Standard


Aisleways, traffic lanes and work cells


Equipment and fixtures (workstations, carts, floor stand displays, racks, etc.) not otherwise color coded

Green, blue, and/or black

Materials and components, including raw materials, work-in-progress and finished goods


Materials or product held for inspection


Defects, scrap, rework, and red tag areas

Red & white

Areas to be kept clear for safety/compliance reasons (e.g., areas in front of electrical panels, firefighting equipment, and safety equipment such as eyewash stations, safety showers and first aid stations.)

Black & white

Areas to be kept clear for operational purposes (not related to safety and compliance)

Black & yellow

Areas that may expose employees to special physical or health hazards.

Floor Marking Guidelines

Use as few colors as possible. This will make it easier for employees to remember the intended meaning of each color and reduce the number of floor marking products that must be kept in inventory.

Color coding workcell and equipment borders. Some companies choose to mark equipment locations using the same color employed for aisleways and work cell boundaries. This has the benefit of simplicity. However, consideration should also be given to the fact that the overall layout of lanes and sectors within the plant is made more visually clear when different colors are used for these purposes.

Aisleways & traffic lanes (yellow)

Work cells (yellow)
Equipment (white)

Color coding material storage areas. Use the same border color for all material storage areas unless there is an important reason for differentiating between raw materials, work in progress and finished goods. As an alternative, consider using one border tape color in conjunction with different colored labels to visually distinguish between the various material types.

Color coding non-material storage fixtures. Floor markings for fixtures such as racks that hold raw materials, work in progress or finished goods should be color coded in green, blue and/or black. Otherwise use white or gray to mark the location of all other fixtures.

Material storage areas (green, blue and/or black)

Color coding areas to be kept clear for safety and compliance. Some companies use red or red-and-white stripes in front of firefighting equipment, and green or green-and-white stripes in front of safety equipment. For simplicity sake, however, we recommend standardizing on one color for all applications where the intent is to keep the area in front of equipment clear for safety or compliance reasons. That said, we also recommend that the firefighting and safety equipment itself - as well as any associated wall signage - be color coded using red and green, respectively, to enhance visibility and facilitate easy location of the equipment from a distance.

Color coding areas in front of electrical panels. Under this standard, red and white should also be used to mark the floor in front of electrical panels. Some facilities use black and yellow to indicate the presence of an electrical hazard, but the primary purpose of the marking is to keep the area in front of the panel clear. Danger labels should be displayed on the outside of the panels to warn employees of potential shock and arc flash hazards.

Defects/scrap/rework (red)

QA inspection (orange)

Color coding operational “keep clear” areas. Use black and white marking to indicate that an area should be kept clear for operational reasons, such as ensuring sufficient clearance for forklifts. As objects without a home tend to naturally congregate in open areas, employ black and white marking to discourage the use of open floor space for unintended purposes.

Color coding hazardous areas or equipment. Black and yellow striped marking should be used as a border around any area or piece of equipment where employees may be inadvertently exposed to a special hazard. For example, use black and yellow borders around flammable or combustive material containers. The intent of the black and yellow border is to indicate that special caution should be exercised when entering and working in the area.

Keep clear – operational (black/white) Keep clear – safety (red/white) Hazard area (black/yellow)

Tape Thickness and Durability

Not all floor tapes are made equally- when choosing the best tape for your marking needs, it is important to select one that can accommodate various factors that may affect the longevity and effectiveness of your line markers. Tapes range from lightweight (approximately 5 to 8 mils, or .005” to .008”) to heavyweight (from 20 to 35 mils, or .020” to .035”), and it is important that you choose a tape that is durable enough to withstand the type of traffic in your facility. Good industrial floor marking tapes have reduced edge profiles, and are made from a material that can resist the various chemicals, water, UV rays, and extreme temperatures often found in harsh industrial environments. High-grade industrial floor tapes are designed to last years, even in tough areas with forklifts and trucks, and outlast paint in nearly all scenarios. The most durable adhesive-based floor marking solution on the market - is a ToughStripe™  Floor Marking Tape:

  • Test-proven to withstand forklift traffic better than the leading competitors
  • Easy application system makes laying smooth, straight lines a one-person job
  • High gloss surface looks great and cleans up easily with common cleanser
  • Comes in a variety of colors and shapes, including pre-spaced dashes and dots
  • Also available as floor signs.

Facilities (or areas of facilities) that see mostly foot traffic, or light traffic overall, can typically be fine to use lightweight vinyl floor tapes.


Unlike painting, floor marking tapes do not require much surface preparation, drying and curing times, or second coats. Previously - when painted lines needed to be laid, the entire work area had to be shut down to allow the bulky line painting equipment or group of workers access to the floor, and once the paint was down, additional time was necessary for the paint to fully dry before production could resume - which can end up being very costly. Industrial floor tapes can be applied by hand or with the help of a floor tape applicator; one worker can apply many tape lines at a fast pace, saving time and money. To apply floor tapes, first clean the floor with a mild non-ammonia based cleaner. Make sure the floor is completely dry, and then simply peel and stick the lines to the floor. Some people like to use a chalk line when installing. Once the tape is laid down, it is a good idea to run a weighted wheel (like a forklift tire or a hand-pulled tamping cart) over the tape lines to press them firmly onto the surface.


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