Floor Marking for Emergency Exits

When monitoring any type of work environment it is easy to see that people generally know what they are doing and where they are going. Everyone knows how to get from their normal work area to the nearest bathroom, break room, and of course, to the exit they typically use at the end of the day. When there is a fire, chemical spill, earthquake, active shooter, or any other emergency, however, it is frightening just how quickly people can become confused and lose their way. This is especially true of the power goes out or a main path that is normally used gets blocked.

This is why it is so important to have all of your exits not only clearly marked, but the paths to reach them identified in multiple different ways. Using floor markings to lead people to the nearest emergency exit will help to save lives during a critical situation. In addition, just having a properly marked emergency evacuation path is required by OSHA and other regulatory agencies in many cases, so it makes sense for all facilities to do.

Identifying All Egresses

Whenever planning out how you will use floor markings (or anything else) to help ensure everyone can get out of your facility during an emergency, the first thing you need to do is identify every approved egress point. An egress point is a way that can be used to get out of the building. The most obvious, and usually preferred egress point is going to be your main doors. Any emergency exit doors are also going to be ideal options.

You will also want to identify any windows that can be used to escape during an emergency. In order to qualify as an actual egress point, the window must be able to easily open widely enough for people to escape safely. If the window is not going to allow people with disabilities to get out, this must be known as well. If you are not sure whether a window or other non-door area is going to qualify as an egress point, make sure to speak to an OSHA representative or other safety expert to evaluate the area before marking it as an emergency exit.

If your facility has more than one floor (either going up, or underground) you need to really think through your egress points for each floor carefully. Remember, during an emergency you cannot rely on elevators, escalators, or other methods of escape that require power.

Creating a Clear Path to Every Egress Point

Once you have all of the egress points marked out for your facility, you will want to begin using floor markings to guide people to the nearest one. From any spot in the facility, people in the building should be able to instantly look down and see the floor markings that will guide them to safety. This is most commonly done using floor marking tape.

Make sure that you use floor marking tape that is of a color or pattern that is not used for anything else in the facility. This will help to avoid confusion and ensure that everyone knows exactly what path to follow during an emergency situation.

Make Sure the Markings are Visible

It is extremely important that you make sure that the floor markings are highly visible, even during an emergency. Remember, if there is a fire, the area could be quite smoky. If the power goes out, many areas will be quite dark even if you have some emergency lighting in place. To help make it as visible as possible, many companies choose to use glow-in-the-dark floor marking tape. This is a special type of tape that is made of a material that is able to absorb light energy during the day (or when the facility is properly lit up) and then emit a glow when it becomes dark.

This glowing tape will be easily visible in the dark and it will really stand out during an emergency situation. Everyone in the facility will know that they need to follow the glowing tape to reach the nearest exit.

In addition to just the floor marking tape, it is a good idea to use other signs and images to guide people to safety. For example, you may add a floor marking sign to the ground that has large arrows pointing in the direction of the nearest exit. You could also put these types of signs on the walls or other areas where they are going to be easy to see during an emergency. Using this type of safety sign along with the floor marking tape will give everyone clear directions on where they should be going during an emergency.

Training is Always Essential

No matter how well-thought-out your floor marking tape and signs maybe, you want to make sure that you spend some time training everyone who regularly works in your facility on what to do. Most people have been going through fire drills since they were very small children in school. There is a reason why almost every facility performs these drills. That reason goes well-beyond the fact that OSHA requires them in many situations.

Performing emergency evacuation drills on a regular basis will help to ensure everyone in the facility knows what to do in the event of a real hazard. Even if not everyone takes these drills seriously, it will put the basic idea of what they have to do into their mind so they are able to better react should a real event occur. The combination of the repetitive drills and the clear floor markings will be very effective at ensuring everyone knows what to do and where to go.

Remember, while fire drills are the most common option and should absolutely be a part of your training, it should go beyond that as well. Teaching everyone about the presence of the floor markings and how to locate the nearest exit is also necessary. You will also want to teach people where to go or how to escape during emergencies beyond just a fire. Having a full safety plan in place will help to ensure everyone can get out quickly should the need arise.

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