July 13

OSHA Standards for Painting Warehouses


Warehouses are busy and hazardous environments with unique challenges to managing productivity, efficiency, and safety issues. It’s a good plan to use paint technology and strategic color combinations to make a warehouse safer, thereby enhancing protection for employees, equipment, and products.

Safety improvements result from initiatives like painting warehouse ceilings, warehouse floor painting and warehouse safety floor markings, and pedestrian walkway lines and aisles.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides guidelines on how organizations can help improve the health and safety in warehouse and distribution centers. OSHA regulations require commercial facilities to mark all permanent aisles and passageways, or else pay the price of a violation and a fine.

Guidelines for Warehouse Safety

OSHA standards for painting warehouses

It may seem kind of insignificant, but those painted yellow lines you see on warehouse, store, and factory floors are anything but unimportant. OSHA has basic color and width guidelines for floor markings, also called safety lines.

Safety lines are essential for the protection of employees who work in those buildings. OSHA can issue steep fines when areas where employees walk or the work areas are not marked to identify safe pathways or highlight dangerous areas.

1. Floor Markings

OSHA’s floor marking guidelines help facilities determine how and where they need to use floor markings to improve safety. These standards cover requirements for cleaning shop floors, standards for aisles and passageways, and much more.

Floor markings can be used throughout the warehouse. When making a floor marking plan, employers should make sure they’ve used enough floor markings to be effective and avoid using too many markings that just look confusing.

  • Aisles. Most facilities will benefit from using floor markings as an aisle marking tool. They can also be used to help keep vehicles traveling in approved ways.
  • Storage Areas. Floor markings can improve the way things are organized. Sectioning off storage areas will help avoid putting things in the wrong places throughout the day. 
  • Hazards. Identifying safety hazards using floor markings is another good option. Alerting people to a hazard's existence is a way to ensure safety in a warehouse. Floor markings can be placed around stairwells, openings in the floor, ledges, or anywhere else that could present a serious risk to those in the area.
2. Aisles and Passageways

Warehouse floor striping allows companies to mark and identify aisles and passageways that are to be kept clear for safe operational workings and in the event of an emergency. When using aisles and passageways to move materials mechanically, workers must allow sufficient clearance for aisles at loading docks, through doorways, wherever turns must be made, and in other areas of the workplace.

Employers must ensure that permanent aisles and passageways are marked appropriately. The aisle markings must show the actual aisle space. There is no specific guidance on aisle and passageway widths; however, OSHA does recommend they be wide enough to be seen by everyone in that specific area. Aisles can be created by painting safety lines to clear up confusion and help your facility run smoothly.

  • Traffic Flow Areas: If your warehouse uses large pieces of equipment, having safety lines painted on the floor will help direct traffic flow and help your employees operate equipment more safely. Creating designated areas for forklifts, pallet jacks, and rolling racks can keep collisions from happening.
  • Employee-Only Areas: If you work with hazardous materials, creating employee-only areas can help to ensure the safety of your customers. Customers will be well-informed of the areas they should steer clear of.
  • Keep Pedestrians and Vehicles Separated: Creating floor markings to show pedestrians where they should be walking and vehicle operators where they should be driving will go a long way toward minimizing the overall risk of an accident.

3. Electrical Compliance

A dangerous area of most warehouses is near electrical equipment. To keep people safe, OSHA requires that facilities alert people to the potential danger of this equipment. Placing floor markings around all electrical equipment can help ensure everyone is aware of the hazard. It is also recommended that floor marking signs are used so people can see the specific hazard that is present.

Floor Marking Color Guide

Following the same standards throughout your warehouse can help avoid confusion and encourage safe practices. OSHA suggests warehouse managers adopt color strategies universally recognized in modern workplaces. Below are some common floor marking colors:

  • Yellow is recommended for marking off aisles and pathways within a facility. Yellow is also used in areas where people need to use extra caution; e.g., for marking physical hazards such as striking against, stumbling, falling, and tripping,
  • White is commonly used to identify storage locations and general info like parking, reminders, and directions.
  • Red is used for marking equipment such as fire extinguishers. It is also used to signify imminent danger of serious injury.
  • Orange signifies warning of potential danger; it can also be used for organizing things within a warehouse that need an inspection.
  • Green is normally used to mark off safety equipment. First aid kits, eyewash stations, and health information will have green floor marking tape in those areas.
  • The colors blue, green, and black are often used to identify raw materials.
  • A red and white-striped floor marking is used to let people know that the area must be kept clear for emergency access. This could be placed around fire hydrants and near emergency vehicle zones.
  • Orange-Red floor markings are used to mark biological hazards in the area.
  • Magenta lettering on a yellow background signifies radiation and X-ray areas.

Floor Marking Shapes

There are many floor marking shapes that can be used to improve organization and safety within a warehouse.  The following are some common shapes and how they are used:

  • Octagonal Stop Signs - Stop signs on the floor ensure those driving indoor vehicles come to a complete stop, just as with vehicles on the roads outdoors.

  • Arrows - Floor marking arrows direct people to get where they need to go. They are useful in pointing people to an evacuation area.
  • Exit Signs - Exit signs can be placed on the floor using lettering to direct people toward the nearest exit. 
  • Footsteps - The shape of footsteps leads employees and visitors in the direction you want them to go while in the warehouse.
  • Warning Signs - The word “warning” or a shape signifying a specific hazard helps to improve safety for all in the warehouse.

Preparing to Repaint a Warehouse

Commercial painting contractors are excellent resources for planning warehouse color safety paint strategies. Before any paint is applied, potential warehouse painters should be allowed to visit the facility and give the managers feedback on what the project will require. The following process outlines steps to get a warehouse looking its best and maintaining a safe environment.

Choosing a Commercial Paint Contractor

A professional painting contractor should be licensed and insured. They should know about paint and coating products for industrial settings. A detailed proposal and timeline of the project should be provided to the warehouse manager.


Open lines of communication are important to ensure a successful commercial paint project. A project manager should be assigned as the main point of contact for both the painting contractor and the facility to maintain clarity at every stage of the process.

Move Equipment

Any equipment or storage containers that are in the way of walls and other surfaces to be painted need to be moved to another location. Some items can be covered up with plastic sheets as protection from paint once the project begins.

Inform Employees

With any project that a company takes on, reorganizing some operations must take place. Actions can include employees entering the building from another location, changing routines, or moving employees to different departments. All affected employees should be informed of the changes that will take place before the project begins.

The safety of employees should always be a priority for any business owner. An experienced commercial painting contractor should know which type of paint to use to minimize exposure to volatile organic compounds. Paint fumes can trigger headaches, nausea, and cause breathing difficulties.

Avoid Health and Safety Problems

Handle all moisture and mold problems immediately. Employees should never be exposed to potential health hazards. If a warehouse has not been painted in a long time, make sure lead paint was not used. If so, it must be removed properly.

Trusted Warehouse Painting Professionals

If you run a warehouse, you know that safety and efficiency are two of your top priorities. Work with a company with decades of experience in warehouse striping. With quality floor striping from The Painting Pros, you can ensure both foot and equipment traffic are managed safely, and designated areas are marked clearly and effectively. 

There are many benefits to striping and staging your warehouse floor. Some include meeting OSHA standards, ensuring employee safety, and increasing staging space for your products. From caution signage to pedestrian walkways, there’s no striping we can’t create.

Our commercial painting pros are experienced and knowledgeable in the OSHA standards for warehouse painting. We offer competitive pricing and can get the job done on time with a high-quality finish. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation.


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