The most cost-effective workplace safety aid you'll ever buy
Barricades are something you see everywhere you go - from banks to furniture stores to factories. They can be as simple as rope strung across an opening, or a welded framework protecting people from an open manhole.
Most of these barricades are just guides to maintain an orderly flow, such as poles with banners connected together in a bank. Other barriers warn people to stay out of potentially dangerous situations, such as road cones at a construction site.
When it comes to workplace safety, barricades are a much more serious matter. They are not just suggestions; barriers are there to save your life.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines "barricade" as "an obstruction to deter the passage of persons or vehicles."
Exposed wires, moving machinery and high temperature valves are just a few of the potential dangers requiring barricades.
Many people do not even recognize the danger behind the barricade. Idiot-proofing should be your goal with barricades - be sure to include signs, warning lights and instructions if something should go wrong.
Hundreds of barricade products are available on the market today, such as barricade tape and machine guards.
You can also make your own barricades; they don't have to be pretty, as long as they do the job. A barricade can be as basic as wooden two-by-four frameworks or as fancy as prefab tracks with all the accessories.
Regulatory bodies such as OSHA, ANSI and various levels of government have rules for some of these situations that require barricades (especially anything traffic-related), but not all. Common sense and workplace experience will have to drive most of your barricade best practices.
Barricade tape colors speak louder than words
OSHA regulations specify color coding of barricades, but that is as far as they go. The size, material and weight of barricade tape are up to the manufacturer.
Barricade tape colors, as decreed by OSHA, are as follows:
- Red / white for Fire Prevention and Protection Equipment
- Black / white for Housekeeping and Aisle Marking
- Magenta / yellow for Radiation Hazards
- Green / white for Safety and First Aid
- Blue / white for Defective Machinery
- Orange / white for Traffic and Caution Warning
- Black / yellow for Physical Hazards
While the colors have been chosen for you, the wording on your barricade tape has not. Hundreds of versions of barricade tape messages have been produced in dozens of languages. You can even buy barricade tape without wording or markings at all. (Special orders of barricade tape are no problem, but like anything, you'll need to order a certain volume to bring the cost down.)
The marketplace seems to have standardized on three-inch-wide tape by 1,000 feet long for disposable tapes. Other sizes exist, such as two, four and six-inch.
The normal tape configuration is two to four mil thick, non-adhesive and made from polyethylene. Dispensers, boxes and clips are some of the accessories for these tapes.
Reusable tapes are normally much thicker (up to 10 mil thick) and made from either polypropylene or nylon.
Certain industries have their own needs for special tape, such as heavy paper tape used in paper and chemical plants.
Biodegradable tapes are increasing in use for those hard-to-reach places.
Tape variations exist for special situations or industry-specific problems, such as the police or military.
Whether reflective or normal, fluorescent or plain, sticky-backed or non-adhesive - barricade tapes are likely the most cost-effective safety aid you will ever buy.