Health & Safety Management in the Warehouse

It is important to provide a safe and healthy environment for your employees and visitors, this should be the starting point for good health and safety management within your warehouse.

Warehouses should be designed and laid out to allow for the safe movement of goods, materials and people. Good design and layout can help reduce accidents, including those involving vehicles and people slipping and tripping. In the UK, the HSE requires that companies separate pedestrian and vehicle circulation.

The movement of goods and materials involves the use of a wide range of vehicles and accounts for a large proportion of accidents in warehouses, it is important to have a safe system of traffic management. This should include methods and procedures for arrival, reception, unloading, loading and movement of vehicles within the premises. People and vehicles should be segregated as far as is reasonably practicable.

When thinking about design and layout, consider the following areas:

  • storage areas, aisles and gangways
  • pedestrian traffic routes
  • staircases and ramps
  • emergency escape routes

Storage areas, aisles and gangways should be clearly marked out on the floor. Gangways should be wide enough to ensure that mechanical handling equipment can be easily manoeuvred.

The surfaces of floors and traffic routes should be free from any hole, slope, or uneven or slippery surface which is likely to:

  • cause a person to slip, trip or fall
  • cause a person to drop or lose control of anything being lifted or carried
  • cause instability or loss of control of vehicles and/or their loads

How can a workplace become more efficient at managing people, goods and machinery? The answer lies in planning a workspace from the ground up. Whether it is during the initial planning stage or after having established a natural flow of traffic, the secret to any well-organised workplace is a set of colour codes and guidelines, such as the ‘5S Floor Marking Colour Standard’.

The benefits of a floor marking colour scheme

  • provides an orderly and safe flow of goods and helps in directing traffic along aisles and pathways
  • ensures better organisation and clearly marks where to store, load and unload goods & machinery
  • a clear pattern eliminates confusion and wasting precious time searching as a result
  • transmits important messages and if used correctly, can help anyone identify the workflow of a workplace within a minute
  • a durable solution and can take the abuse of warehouse traffic
  • add it quickly to any workplace without interrupting or limiting access to work areas
5S Floor Marking Colour Scheme

A colour scheme titled ‘5S Floor Marking Colour Scheme’ has become a point of reference for many companies that seek to standardise floor markings. The guide can help to visually separate work areas and passageways. Identifying the locations of machinery, emergency equipment and assembly areas thus becomes easier.Although the scheme is short and sweet for the sake of simplicity and easy learning, companies can personalise it to fit the needs of any workplace! It can improve productivity and organisation, not just safety.

Guidelines and best practices for floor markings

  • use as few colours as possible, making it easier for employees to remember the meaning of each code
  • identify specific colours with specific purposes, such as matching equipment locations with aisle ways and work area boundaries
  • use yellow floor markings to mark existing aisles and passageways as well as to demarcate safe aisles and passageways that do not exist without the floor markings
  • separate pedestrian lanes and motorised traffic lanes in warehouses that use fork lifts, for example
  • separate workers from hazards such as high noise, flammable or combustive material containers by using yellow and black stripes
  • areas that require additional safety and slip & trip prevention can be demarcated. (Black/Yellow, Red/White or Luminous) are some good choices
  • make stair treads, ramps, entrances and loading docks safer with paints, tape or GRP
Colour codes and guidelines




 Aisle ways, traffic lanes and work cells


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

 Blue, Green, Black

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


 Materials or products held for inspection


 Defects, scrap, rework and red tag areas


 Steps and perimeter demarcation to identify egress routes in a lights-out emergency

 Red/White Stripe

 Keep area clear for safety/compliance reasons (in front of electrical panels, firefighting equipment and safety equipment)

 Black/White Stripe

 Keep area clear for operational purposes (not related to safety or compliance standards)

 Yellow/Black Stripe

 Areas that may expose employees to physical or health hazards

Help and advice

If you need any help or advice, please contact us on 01483 26 66 36 or email us at