Social distancing has become a part of everyday life, and one of the most important places to practice it is in the workplace. No matter the industry or type of business you have, you will need to ensure that workers, visitors, and customers stay six feet apart from each other while they are on site. This distance is the minimum standard set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses such as the Coronavirus.
Staying six feet apart from other people is one of the most effective ways to combat illness transmission. However, many businesses do not currently have tools or measures in place to enforce this distance.
Whether your employees have continued working on-site or you are preparing to have employees 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 illness transmission in your workplace.
Marking Physical Hazards and More
Did you believe floor markings were solely for use in environments where exposure to physical hazards is high?
Well, we have some excellent news. Floor tape and other floor marking strategies can be used for a whole lot more than just physical hazards. As we have progressed into the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been revealed that floor markings can be used for a much wider array of situations, including that of physical distancing.
Let’s go over the common situations where floor markings are normally used. Facilities can use floor tape to mark:
- Fire protection equipment such as fire extinguishers
- Areas with high forklift traffic
- Storage areas for raw materials and finished product
- Work cells
- Permanent walkways
- Electrical panels
Throughout the pandemic, facilities have turned to use floor markings for the following:
- Public transportation
- Retail outlets
- Aisle markings
- Queue areas
- Vaccination clinics
The right tape can be used for practically any type of visual communication. Not only does this practice increase overall facility safety, but it also works to remind workers and visitors to practice social distancing and other safe behavior.
Floor Marking Tools for Social Distancing
The first step of enforcing social distancing is to make sure people are physically able to keep six feet apart in the workplace. They must also be reminded to follow these safety measures.
What this separation will look like varies 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 to prevent workers from passing too close to each other, and workstations can be set up in a way where employees are not directly facing one another.
In many cases, floor markings are the best type of visual communication to use for social distancing. Passersby will be able to immediately see where to place themselves, so they keep their distance while they work. There are many different types of floor marking tools available that can help provide information and direction on social distancing. Those tools include floor tape, floor shapes, and floor signs.
Industrial Floor Marking Tape
Colored floor tape that can easily be applied to floors while also lasting 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 of floor tape to mark out one-way aisles or pathways so workers can traverse the 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.”
As can be seen here simple reminders such as these can go a long way in directing traffic and ensuring people keep their distance.
Floor tape is also available in pre-made shapes that won’t scuff or tear over time. These are often used as either a replacement for floor tape or even on their own!
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 permanent aisles that promote distancing. 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 any floor tape or floor shapes placed around the facility. It’s helpful to have signage paired with text designed specifically for floors, as these are made to hold up to heavy vehicle and foot traffic.
Analyze your workplace to determine where floor signs should be installed 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 of 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 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 can be mounted on the outside of buildings 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 can help you describe proper hygiene practices or provide an example of social distancing in a fun and unique way that catches people’s attention.
What were once Lean manufacturing products are now here to help guide people through both social and physical distancing. Facility marking to this extent can also encourage those who have tested positive to stay at home to prevent spreading COVID-19.
Other Tips for Implementing Distancing
Not all floor markings are equal. Many of them only work in certain indoor environments and under the correct circumstances. However, there are other options for floor marking that facilities can choose based on their needs.
We’re referring to outdoor signage and bilingual floor marking!
These two types of signs are essential for rounding out your visual communication program in terms of social distancing and keeping employees safe in higher-risk environments.
Implement Bilingual Signage
Whatever floor marking you choose to implement in your facility for social distancing, it’s important to ensure that any communication you provide can be universally understood. Not only will this improve safety, but it will work to prevent cases of severe illness.
With many Spanish-speaking workers in the workforce, 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.
That said, 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 that social distancing applies to 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 while also providing information on what people can expect, especially when it comes to your social distancing policy.
Social Distancing Resources from Creative Safety Supply
Creative Safety Supply has countless free resources when it comes to floor marking, one of our specialties. Brush up on standards and regulations with our numerous educational resources about floor marking here. We also have a free downloadable OSHA Floor Marking Guide that you can use as a reference for any floor marking project.
If you’re looking for a more comprehensive social distancing resource, check out this free social distancing quick guide.
To finish off, we also make our very own industrial floor marking tape! SafetyTac®is one of the most durable floor marking options on the market. With our tape, you’ll be able to create a workplace that keeps workers informed of their proximity to others. You can also check out our other social distancing floor marking options here.
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.
- How far apart should social distancing floor markings be placed?
- What floor marking shapes can I use for social distancing?
- Why is floor marking an effective option for social distancing?
- How can I use safety signs to encourage social distancing?
- How does floor marking promote social distancing?
- What tools can be used to practice social distancing?
- How can I ask customers to practice social distancing in the checkout line?
- Why is social distancing important?
- Where should social distancing signs be placed in stores?