News Release USDL: 96-375
Tuesday, September 10, 1996
Contact: Frank Kane (202) 219-8151
OSHA Proposes It's First Rewrite
of Requirements Into Plain Language
Standards for Workplace Emergency
Routes to be Offered in Two Versions
OSHA is becoming user-friendly. The Occupational
Safety and Health Administration is suggesting
that its guidelines for leaving a building in a
hurry or otherwise be changed to plain language.
In other words, what employers once found listed
as "Means of Egress" will now be listed under
OSHA wants to know what employers, their
employees and the general public think about
this proposal, which was advertised today in
the government's non-plain language Federal
Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich says the
simplification makes for better government.
"Today, we've made a substantial down payment
on a government that works better," Reich said.
"Americans are well-served when government
communicates simply and clearly about worker
safety and health."
This is the first of OSHA's standards to
be simplified. Others will follow.
"To make this standard as user-friendly and
understandable as possible, we also are
proposing this in two plain language formats,"
said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational
Safety and Health Joseph A. Dear, the head of OSHA.
"The first version is organized in the traditional
OSHA regulatory format and the second version
uses a question and answer format. We want to
know which version is the most effective."
President Clinton's reinventing government
initiative prompted OSHA's review of its standards
to determine which should be rewritten in
The requirements for exit routes for general
industry have been rewritten in simple,
straightforward, easy-to-understand terms.
The proposals also reorganize the text, remove
inconsistencies among sections and eliminate duplicate
requirements. The proposed rules also are
performance-oriented and shorter than the
Each of the two proposed versions includes a
detailed table of contents, to make them
easier to use.
Both proposed versions leave unchanged the
regulatory obligations on employers and the
safety and health protection provided to employees.
The proposed question and answer version is
very different from the approach taken in
current OSHA standards. Each provision is
written in the form in which an employer might
ask a question about the rule, and this question
is followed by an answer that tells the employer
about the applicable requirements.
Notice of the proposed rule is published in
the Tuesday, Sept. 10, 1996, Federal Register.
Comments and requests for hearings must be
postmarked no later than Nov. 12, 1996, and
submitted in quadruplicate to the OSHA Docket
Office, Docket No. S-052, Room N-2625, U.S.
Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave.,
N.W., Washington, DC 20210
(telephone 202-219-7894). Comments of 10
pages or less may be faxed to the Docket
Office, if followed by hard copy mailed
within two days, (fax 202-219-5046).
EXAMPLE OF PLAIN LANGUAGE STANDARDS
The following represents a comparison of an
existing regulatory provision and a plain
language version of the same provision.
This example involves the provision for
width and capacity of means of egress in
the current "Means of Egress" standard.
29 CFR 1910.37(c)
(c) Width and capacity of means of egress.(1) The capacity in number of
persons per unit of exit width for approved components of means of egress
shall be as follows:
29 CFR 1910.37(c)(1)(i)
(i) Level Egress Components (including Class A Ramps) 100 persons.
29 CFR 1910.37(c)(1)(ii)
(ii) Inclined Egress Components (including Class B Ramps) 60 persons.
29 CFR 1910.37(c)(1)(iii)
(iii) A ramp shall be designated as Class A or Class B in accordance with the following Table E-1:
||44 inches and greater
||30 to 44 inches
||1 to 1 3/16 inches in 12 inches
||1 3/16 to 2 inches in 12 inches
|Maximum height between landings
29 CFR 1910.37(c)(2)
(2) Means of egress shall be measured in units of exit width of 22 inches. Fractions
of a unit shall not be counted, except that 12 inches added to one or more full units
shall be counted as one-half a unit of exit width.
29 CFR 1910.37(c)(3)
(3) Units of exit width shall be measured in the clear at the narrowest point of the
means of egress except that a handrail may project inside the measured width on each side
not more than 5 inches and a stringer may project inside the measured width not
more than 1 1/2 inches. An exit or exit access door swinging into an aisle or
passageway shall not restrict the effective width thereof at any point during
its swing to less than the minimum widths hereafter specified.
29 CFR 1910.37(d)
(d) Egress capacity and occupant load.(1) The capacity of means of egress for any floor,
balcony, tier, or other occupied space shall be sufficient for the occupant load
thereof. The occupant load shall be the maximum number of persons that may be in the
space at any time.
(2) Where exits serve more than one floor, only the occupant load of each floor
considered individually need be used in computing the capacity of the exits at that
floor, provided that exit capacity shall not be decreased in the direction of exit travel.
PLAIN LANGUAGE VERSION (Q. AND A. FORMAT)
29 CFR 1910.36
(i) What is the required capacity for exit routes? An employer must ensure that each
exit route supports the maximum-permitted occupant load for each floor served by the
exit route. The capacity of an exit may not decrease with the direction of exit travel.