Social Distancing in Your Facility
Social distancing has become part of everyday life, and one of the most important places to practice it is in the workplace. No matter what industry you’re in or what type of business you have, you will need to ensure that workers, visitors, and customers are able to stay six feet apart from each other while they are on your worksite. This distance is the minimum standard set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in order to reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses such as the Coronavirus.
Keeping your distance from other people is one of the most effective ways to combat the transmission of illness, but understandably, many businesses do not currently have the tools or measures in place in order to enforce this distance. Whether your employees have continued working onsite or you are preparing to have everyone come back, floor marking materials are one of the most accessible and effective means of implementing social distancing. By putting down floor tape, installing signs, and installing visual reminders all around your facility, you can reduce the likelihood of the transmission of illness in your workplace.
Types of Floor Marking for Social Distancing
The first step to enforcing social distancing is to make sure people are physically able to keep six feet apart in your workplace and that they stay mindful of this distance. What exactly this separation looks like will vary from business to business. In offices, desks can be moved and chairs can be spaced further apart. In warehouses and factories, one-way aisles can be established so workers don’t have to pass close to each other, and workstations can be set up so employees are not directly facing one another.
In many cases, floor marking is the visual communication you need so people in your facility are able to see an example of where to place themselves so they keep their distance while they work. There are different types of floor marking that can help provide information and direction on social distancing: floor tape, floor shapes, and floor signs.
Colored tape that can be easily applied to floors and lasts a long time is one of the most important tools you have for social distancing. With floor tape, there are a variety of options for visually establishing distance. You can:
- Use long strips to mark out aisles or pathways so workers are able to traverse your facility without accidentally bumping into one another, or to encourage people to stay out of certain areas
- Set down social distancing strips in places where people must line up, such as a checkout line or the clock-in area, so they can see where to safely stand
- Put customized messages on inline printed tape, so you can provide a continual reminder such as “Wait Here,” or “Please Keep Six Feet of Space From Those Next to You”
Floor tape is available in pre-made shapes that won’t scuff up or tear over time. Use dots, X’s, and footprints to indicate exactly where people may stand and set up their workstations at a safe distance from each other. Footprints and directional arrows also show people which way to go, which is especially helpful if you implement one-way aisles. You can lay down your strips of floor tape, then place shapes every six feet for people to follow.
Floor signs provide essential context to the floor tape and floor shapes you put down so the meaning is immediately understood. It’s helpful to have signage that was designed specifically to be placed on the floors and will hold up to vehicle and foot traffic. Analyze your workplace to determine where to install floor signs for maximum communication and visibility—for example, in areas where people may naturally congregate, such as break rooms, checkout lines, or the places they clock in and clock out.
Social Distancing in Practice: Repetition and Reminders
As time goes on, people will become more used to automatically practicing social distancing in the workplace. Like adopting a mindset of continuous improvement or tidying up at the end of the day, keeping a safe distance will hopefully at some point become second nature and simply another aspect to daily operations. At first, however, employees will need constant reminders—especially if they have been away from the office for a while.
Repetition is necessary to develop new habits, and it’s important to introduce a comprehensive visual communication system about social distancing in your workplace. Along with floor tape, signs placed on the walls and at exits and entrances can help remind people to keep their distance. You can also customize signage to describe what your company specifically is doing to combat the spread of illness.
Tools that can help to further enhance your communication system include:
- Wall signs, which can be implemented in specific areas to help encourage social distancing. For example, you can put a “Thanks For Practicing Social Distancing” sign in aisles or at each person’s workstation or desk.
- Banners, which you can mount on the outside of your building or at each entrance. Banners are highly visible and help provide essential information so people are properly informed before they enter a certain area.
- Posters and infographics, which may help you describe proper hygiene practices or provide an example of social distancing in a fun and unique way that catches people’s attention.
Other Tips for Implementing Distancing
Whatever floor marking you choose to implement in your facility, it’s important to ensure that any communication you provide can be universally understood. With the large number of Spanish-speaking workers in the job force, especially in manufacturing and industrial sectors, OSHA has issued a memorandum stating that employers must present instructions in a language that each of their employees can understand. If you have workers whose first language is something other than English, you need signs in that language; options such as Spanish social distancing products can help you ensure all your employees comprehend the critical information they need to stay safe.
Keep in mind as well that social distancing applies on the entire premises of your building—both inside and outside. If you have customers or employees lining up on the sidewalk outside the entrance, put social distancing strips down to make sure they stay six feet apart as they wait to enter. There are many options for floor tape that can hold up to outdoor conditions. You can also set up A-frame signs along the sidewalk, in parking lots, and at entrances to communicate that you are open for business and provide information as to what people can expect, especially when it comes to your social distancing policy.
There are a variety of ways you’ll be able to implement and encourage social distancing at your workplace, while still providing a positive experience for your employees and visitors. For any business, it’s in your long-term best interest to ensure the safety of your facility; making clear your concern for everyone’s health and safety helps to boost confidence and job satisfaction. When you adjust your workplace to help prevent the spread of illness, use floor markings to enforce social distancing and keep everyone safe.