Promote forklift safety with stencils: a how-to guide

| April 19, 2013

It’s a testament to the care and thoughtfulness with which many do their jobs that there aren’t more forklift fatalities each year—but that doesn’t mean accidents don’t happen. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), someone is killed about every three days in a forklift-related incident.

To lower that figure and promote forklift safety, you can paint stencils that remind your staff and colleagues where forklifts may be operating in your workplace. It’s an easy activity that reaps life-saving benefits, so why not do it?

What you’ll need

Because most forklifts are operated at warehouses and distribution centers, you’ll likely be painting the stencils indoors, but it’s still a good idea to start stenciling on a sunny day with low humidity. Wet or humid days cause paint to dry more slowly. Be sure, though, that the area has good ventilation. Open doors and windows where possible so that paint fumes, which can be toxic, disperse easily.

You’ll also want to be sure that the surface you’re painting on—likely painted concrete flooring—has been pre-treated. If not, then your stencil will chip or scuff more quickly, and you’ll need to redo the job more often than necessary. Luckily, you can buy nonporous stencils that won’t cause paint to bleed through when reused, unlike cardboard-based versions. If you have any questions about the upkeep and handling of your stencils, check out our Floor Stencil Do’s and Don’ts.

Once you have the stencils, you’ll need painter’s tape, which is removed more easily than masking tape, and spray paint cans. You can find environmentally friendly spray paints, like Seymour’s Stripe Water-Based Marking Paint, which is lead-free, VOC-compliant, and won’t wash away.

Step 1

Sweep and mop the area where you’d like to place your stencil. Debris and dust make it harder for paint to adhere to surfaces.

forklift stencil

Step 2

Once the area has dried, put your stencil where you want it to appear and tape the perimeter with painter’s tape.

forklift stencil taped to ground

Step 3

Spray with paint as necessary.

forklift stencil spray painted

Step 4

If you want the paint to have a matte finish or to give it more traction, add glass beads or sand.

forklift stencil sand sprinkle

Step 5

Wait the appropriate amount of time for the paint to dry and then remove the stencil.

forklift stencil paint drying

Voila! You have a well-marked area that promotes workplace and forklift safety.

forklift stencil complete


Category: Safety Tips