We've all seen barricade tape in one fashion or another, many of us probably dozens of times in all sorts of circumstances and in many different forms.
While many think of barricade tape as the yellow and black variety used by police departments throughout the United States, these types of caution tapes, or safety tapes, come in all sorts of different varieties. They're used for many reasons and are even color-coded for different uses.
The yellow/black and red/white combinations are the most prevalent, but all barricade tapes have the same purpose and that's to warn passersby of a potentially harmful or dangerous situation.
These products go by many different names, some of which we've already mentioned. But other names include construction tape, barrier tape, warning tape, and hazard tape.
And the kind we all know so well, the yellow and black variety, is also referred to by many as police tape, as it's primarily used by police departments to cordon off a dangerous area or crime scene.
Barricade tape products are generally made out of tear-proof plastic materials such as polyethylene or nylon and are known to be quite durable and resilient.
It almost always has a bright background with bold lettering that's designed to get people's attention and direct them away from dangerous situations.
What are some of the common uses for barricade tape?
In the United States, barricade tape products are designed to be used in accordance with color specifications set forth by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
It's always a good idea, especially if you live in a city environment, to know the color codes assigned to barricade tapes so you have a working knowledge of what you may see on the street.
Here are some of the most common uses and color matching for barricade tape:
- Police Tape. The yellow/black variety is the most common type of police tape, but it can also come in yellow/white and blue/white color combinations. It's used to protect crime scenes and/or to notify the public that a particular area is restricted for one reason or another.
- Construction Tape. These types of products are also usually black on yellow with words like "Keep Out," "Under Construction" or "Work Zone" printed on them. They're used in construction zones to warn people of possible hazards that could be present in the area or areas.
- Firefighter Tape. This barricade tape is essentially the same as police tape in that it's also used to isolate a particular area. But instead of a crime scene, it's to keep the area clear so firefighters can do their jobs and keep the public away from fire-related dangers like smoke inhalation and falling debris.
- Traffic Control Tape. As you can probably figure out, these products are used to control traffic in a number of different circumstances. This includes vehicle traffic, as well as foot traffic. It almost always comes in bright colors like orange glow or pink.
- Hazard Tape. These products are not as common in the general public as they're usually found in laboratories or industrial zones. But if you do see this type of yellow/black or magenta/yellow tape, be aware that there could be a risk of exposure to toxic chemicals or even a radiation hazard nearby.
What is the color coding for barricade tape?
As mentioned above, there are many different colors of barricading tapes which, in the United States, are regulated by OSHA and safety professionals. The actual specifications of the products, however, are left up to the actual end-user.
That's why you may see the thin tape in some areas and thick or even 3 mil products in other areas. It's completely left up to the discretion of the manufacturer and the actual user.
That being said, let's go over some of the common colors of barricade tape products you could see out in public at any given time.
- Orange/White denotes traffic and caution warnings
- Red/White denotes fire prevention and protection equipment
- Blue/White denotes defective machinery
- Green/White denotes safety and first aid
- Black/White denotes housekeeping and aisle marking
- Black/Yellow denotes physical hazards
- Magenta/Yellow denotes radiation hazards
What's the proper way to use barricade tape?
While OSHA determines the color coding for the use of barricade tape products, there are still plenty of guidelines to follow when setting any type of perimeter.
Keep safety tags in mind and be sure that you and all of your employees are on the same page before setting up a perimeter at your business location.
But once you've determined that barricade tape is needed for safety purposes, take a page from the industry handbook and decide how to best proceed.
Step 1 - Determine what kind of safety tape is needed
As we've already discussed, the situation determines what color of the product to use in all instances. The two main categories are yellow for caution and red for danger but see above for the full breakdown of color coding as determined by OSHA.
Step 2 - Determine the area you'll want to isolate
If you're cordoning off a dangerous location, you'll want to be 100 percent sure that you've taped off every area that could pose a potential safety risk to the public. It's also good to have more than one set of eyes when doing this, so have someone come behind you and double-check your work.
Step 3 - Make sure the wording on the tape is easy to read
As there are many different types of tape products on the market, and not everyone is going to know the OSHA approved color coding, you'll want to make sure that the wording on the tape is readily visible and easy to read. You also need to ensure that it's securely fastened to a support beam or other strong object.
Step 4 - Don't take the tape down until you're sure safety is no longer an issue
Be 100 percent certain that there are no longer any safety concerns in the area before you remove the barricade tape. The last thing you want is to take it down early and have someone get hurt on your work site. Once you know the area no longer poses a threat, remove the tape, and safely discard it in a secure area.