Workplace Safety Blog Post

Visual Communication 101

Visual communication is one of the most effective and widely understood forms of communication, and that is especially true in facilities and warehouses. There is a plethora of places and spaces in a workplace to add visual cues: the wall, the floor, shelves and racks, pipes, wires, machines, and virtually any surface.

Why Go Visual?

Visual communication is the foundation for a safer workplace and is a crucial component to many Lean strategies. Hazards and risks can be marked, instructions communicated, and organization spaces created all with visual communication: not cones or barriers or complicated manuals employees have to memorize.

Visual cues like colors and symbols can be understood quicker and having a standardized system will help employees comprehend quicker. If your workplace is made up with employees speaking multiple languages, visual communication and the use of symbols and colors is a must. Have as much information you would like the worker to know communicated in a clear and easy-to-understand visual.

Although OSHA and ANSI have put forth standards on visual communication and safety signs, one of the biggest advantages of a visual workplace is the opportunity to customize. Order or create signs that are specific to your facility or certain hazards in the workplace. Choose from a variety of sizes, colors, and pictograms to ensure your messages are clearly communicated. Finally, ordering wall signs, posters, labels, and floor markings is typically inexpensive and work to prevent accidents and eliminate waste.

What’s included in a visual workplace?

There are four main types of visual cues to use in your facility; instead of just choosing one or two types of communication, consider using a mix of all four for the most effective visual communication strategy.

Wall signs: Probably the most common visual communication tool, wall signs come in almost any color or shape you can think of, with a variety of texts and symbols. Use “DANGER” safety signs near hazardous equipment and use “First Aid” signs to indicate to employees where the first aid station is located. Signs come in arrows, yield triangles, rectangles, squares, and you can order signs in multiple sizes to fit the area. You can also order wall sigs in a variety of materials that are suitable to most elements.

Floor signs: Floor signs often communicate the same information as wall signs, but their placement ensures communication on a factory floor. These types of signs are designed to handle heavy industrial traffic and can come in materials that are fade-resistant and can withstand both chemical and water damage. Use floor signs along with floor marking tape and shapes to create a complete floor marking system.

Label: Put a label on it! Your floor has signs and so does your wall, but labels give you the opportunity to add to your communication strategy by adding visuals in the form of labels on pipes, machines, doors, and so much more. Put a label on heavy machinery or put a small label to mark a wire; virtually anything can be labeled.

Floor marking tape and shapes: Both floor tape and floor marking shapes are made of durable self-adhesive vinyl meant to handle pedestrian and forklift traffic.  Use floor marking tape to create aisles, walkways, and lanes for traffic, creating a safer workspace for people and heavy machinery. Use different colors and patterns of tape to mark off hazards, or vehicle-specific lanes. Floor marking shapes come in a variety of shapes including corners, footprints, dots, arrows, and more. These are a wonderful addition to both tape and floor signs to round out your floor marking strategy. Use arrows to direct traffic, create holding spaces for pallets with the corner, or create pathways with a line of footprints to follow. 

Training for visual communication

Train existing workers on the new visual communication strategies you decide to implement in the facility. Go over the symbols, colors, and pictograms that are now standardized in the workplace. For instance, if you choose to have red floor to signify fire hazards, ensure everyone working in the facility understands that. Train employees on understanding different signal words, like why a “DANGER” sign is different than a “CAUTION” sign. It is important to train new hires of the visual communication standards as well as holding ongoing training classes to keep changes fresh on people’s minds.


The most important things to remember when creating a new visual communication strategy is to be clear not complicated, and to standardize it across the facility. Ensure your employees are trained and the visual cues make sense. Using these tools will increase safety but is also the perfect tool to aid your Lean or 5S efforts.

Additional Resources