Signs and symbols are essential to managing road traffic. They ensure the smooth flow of vehicles, prevent dangerous situations and accidents, and provide vital clarity at confusing intersections. They play the very same role in warehouses. But – hands on your hearts – who manages to keep all this information on the radar at all times?
Generally speaking, warning signs and symbols in warehouses are there to enhance safety and protect employees. They primarily highlight upcoming hazards, draw attention to dangers, and establish rules – especially where forklift truck drivers and pedestrians are working in close proximity. Because in warehouses, as on conventional streets, the routes for vehicles and people on foot run side-by-side.
To lower risk, signs are installed – and a great many of them to boot. In total, there are six main categories of safety signage commonly seen in Europe:
PROHIBITION SIGN WARNING SIGN MANDATORY SIGN EMERGENCY CONDITIONS SIGN FIRE PROTECTION SIGN SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION AND COMBINATION SIGNS
EMERGENCY CONDITIONS SIGN
FIRE PROTECTION SIGN
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION AND COMBINATION SIGNS
We are already familiar with many of these from non-intralogistics contexts – for example, the typically green signs for emergency routes and exits. The categories of other signs can be quickly deduced by their shape and eye-catching colors. Yellow, for instance, is a warning of approaching dangers – while red calls for the highest degree of caution. The precise combination of shape and color for safety signs across Europe is provided by the Technical Rules for Workplaces, ASR A1.3*.
However, people quickly become accustomed to their surroundings, and in warehouses that means, for example, that they may become inured to certain perils. They may not pay attention to every single sign, or may even at times fail to watch out for other vehicles or pedestrians, particularly when they are focused on something else. The result is a drastically increased risk of accidents, especially where vehicles are involved.
Standing out in a maze of signage: let there be light!
There are a variety of ways to warn warehouse employees about forklifts and other potential equipment. Trucks can be fitted, for instance, with assistance systems, such as Linde TruckSpot. In this instance, an approaching forklift projects a warning triangle onto the floor. This visual signal is displayed wherever pedestrians need to pay special attention to nearby dangers. Moreover, the moving triangle is better at catching the eye than a standard static sign. And solutions like Linde TruckSpot can often be simply and easily implemented as a retrofit. Depending on the specific needs at hand, the warning signal can appear both when the forklift is backing up, and when it is moving forward.