Thursday, January 14th, 2021
According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), at least two exit routes must be available to permit quick evacuation of employees and other occupants in the event of an emergency.
Standard 29 CFR 1910 Subpart E says the exit routes have to be located as far away from each other as possible so that if one route is blocked by fire or smoke, employees can use the other route to escape.
However, a single exit route is allowed where the number of employees, the size of the building, or the arrangement of the workplace would enable all employees to exit safely during an emergency.
Fire escapes, accessible windows, or other means of escape should be available where only one exit route is provided.
In some workplaces, more than two exit routes may be necessary to safely evacuate all employees.
OSHA defines an exit route as a continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel from any point within a workplace to a place of safety. An exit route is made up of three components:
- Exit access: The portion of the exit route that leads to an exit.
- Exit: The part of the exit route that is usually separated from other areas to provide a protected way of travel to the exit discharge.
- Exit discharge: The part of the exit route that leads directly outside or to a street, walkway, refuge area, public way, or open space with access to the outside.
Other requirements that apply to exit routes include the following:
- Exit doors must be unlocked at all times.
- A side-hinged exit door must be used.
- Doors that connect any room to an exit route must swing out in the direction of travel.
- Exit routes must be at least 28 inches wide at all points.
- Exit routes must be unobstructed and free from clutter.
- Adequate lighting (including emergency lighting) must be provided so that an employee with normal vision can see along the exit route.
- Each exit must be clearly visible and marked by a sign reading “Exit”.
- Decorations or signs may not block the visibility of the exit route door.
- Signs must be posted along the exit route to show the nearest exit and how to get there.
- The line of sight to the exit sign must be clearly visible at all times.
- Any doors or passages that could be mistaken for an exit should be marked as “Not an Exit” or for its actual use (e.g., closet).
- Exit signs must be lit with a reliable light source and a distinctive color. The specific requirements require each sign to be illuminated to a surface value of at least five foot-candles (54 lux) and also allow for self-luminous or electroluminescent signs.
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