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Emergency Standards Maintenance, Safeguards, and Operational Features for Exit Routes

Exit

This section includes the safe use of exit routes during an emergency, lighting and marking exit routes, fire retardant paints, exit routes during construction, repairs, or alterations, and employee alarm systems.

OSHA's Exit Route Examples

See OSHA's Demonstrative Exit Routes #1 and #2 to learn how to apply the OSHA standards for exit routes. For further assistance, consult NFPA 101, Life Safety Code.

OSHA's Exit Route Examples

See OSHA's Demonstrative Exit Routes #1 and #2 to learn how to apply the OSHA standards for exit routes. For further assistance, consult NFPA 101, Life Safety Code.

Demonstration #1

[In the image above, there is an exit hallway leading to a set of double doors marked with an "Exit" sign. The wall to the right has an opening. The wall to the left has two openings. Against the right side wall is a large planter marked with a number 1; The double doors are marked with a number 2; To the left, in the first opening, is a set of stairs marked with a number 3; The first opening is marked with a number 4; The ceiling in the middle of the hallway is marked with a number 5; Adjacent to the opening on the left side wall is a second opening with a sign above, "Chemical Stock Room" with a hazard triangle, marked with a number 6.]

  1. Furnishings and Decorations [Rollover image includes white lines which enclose the plantar in front of the double doors]. Each exit route must be free of decorations that obscure the visibility of the exit route door. [29 CFR 1910.37(b)(3)]
  2. Access to Exits [Rollover image includes a white rectangle which encloses the double doors]. Each exit must be clearly visible and marked by a sign reading "Exit". [29 CFR 1910.37(b)(2)]
  3. Discharge From Exits [Rollover image includes a white arrow with the text stairs which appears in the hallway pointing through the left side opening to the stairs]. Exit stairs that continue beyond the level on which the exit discharge is located must be interrupted at that level by doors, partitions, or other effective means that clearly indicate the direction of travel leading to the exit discharge. [29 CFR 1910.36(c)(3)]
  4. Exit Marking [Rollover image includes a white rectangle which encloses the left side wall opening]. Each doorway or passageway along an exit access that could be mistaken fro an exit must be marked "Not an Exit" or similar designation, or be identified by a sign indicating its actual use (e.g., closet). [29 CFR 1910.37(b)(5)]
  5. Exit Marking [Rollover image includes a white rectangle which encloses the "Exit" sign and the security camera above the double doors]. If the direction of travel to the exit or exit discharge is not immediately apparent, signs must be posted along the exit access indicating the direction of travel to the nearest exit and exit discharge. Additionally, the line-of-sight to an exit sign must clearly be visible at all times. [29 CFR 1910.37(b)(4)]
  6. Access to Exits [Rollover image includes white lines which enclose the second wall opening on the left side and the sign above, "Chemical Stock Room" with a hazard triangle]. Exit routes must be arranged so that employees will not have to travel toward a high hazard area, unless the path of travel is effectively shielded from the high hazard area by suitable partitions or other physical barriers. [29 CFR 1910.37(a)(2)]
Demonstration #2

[In the upper left hand corner, there is a hanging ceiling light with inadequate lighting that is marked with a number 1; to the right is an Exit sign in letters that are too small that is marked with a number 2; further along the wall are pipes hanging from the ceiling marked with a number 3; on the far right side is a door marked with a sign saying Production Area that is marked with a number 5. Access to the stairway on the opposite wall is blocked by a large receptacle with laundry. The stairway is marked with a number 4, and a janitor's cart is also blocking access to the stairway.]

  1. Exit Lighting. Each exit route must be adequately lighted so that an employee with normal vision can see along the exit route. [29 CFR 1910.37(b)(1)]
  2. Exit Marking. Each exit sign must have the word "Exit" in plainly legible letters not less than six inches (15.2 cm) high, with the principal strokes of the letters in the word "Exit" not less than three-fourths of an inch (1.9 cm) wide. [29 CFR 1910.37(b)(7)]
  3. Adequate Headroom. The ceiling of an exit route must be at least seven feet six inches (2.3 m) high. Any projection from the ceiling must not reach a point less than six feet eight inches (2.0 m) from the floor. [29 CFR 1910.36(g)(1)]
  4. Access to Exits. Exit routes must be free and unobstructed. No materials or equipment may be placed, either permanently or temporarily, within the exit route. The exit access must not go through a room that can be locked, such as a bathroom, to reach an exit or exit discharge, nor may it lead into a dead-end corridor. Stairs or a ramp must be provided where the exit route is not substantially level. [29 CFR 1910.37(a)(3)]
  5. Access to Exits. The door that connects any room to an exit route must swing out in the direction of exit travel if the room is designed to be occupied by more than 50 people or if the room is a high hazard area (i.e., contains contents that are likely to burn with extreme rapidity or explode). [29 CFR 1910.36(e)(2)]

An exit route is a continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel from any point within a workplace to a place of safety. An exit route consists of three parts:

  • Exit access - portion of an exit route that leads to an exit. [29 CFR 1910.36(a)(3)]
  • Exit - portion of an exit route that is generally separated from other areas to provide a protected way of travel to the exit discharge.
  • Exit discharge - 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.

Exit routes must be kept free of explosive or highly flammable furnishings or other decorations. [29 CFR 1910.37(a)(1)]

Exit routes must be arranged so that employees will not have to travel toward a high hazard area, unless the path of travel is effectively shielded from the high hazard area by suitable partitions or other physical barriers. [29 CFR 1910.37(a)(2)]

Exit routes must be free and unobstructed. No materials or equipment may be placed, either permanently or temporarily, within the exit route. The exit access must not go through a room that can be locked, such as a bathroom, to reach an exit or exit discharge, nor may it lead into a dead-end corridor. Stairs or a ramp must be provided where the exit route is not substantially level. [29 CFR 1910.37(a)(3)]

Safeguards designed to protect employees during an emergency (such as sprinkler systems, alarm systems, fire doors, exit lighting) must be in proper working order at all times. [29 CFR 1910.37(a)(4)]

Each exit route must be adequately lighted so that an employee with normal vision can see along the exit route. [29 CFR 1910.37(b)(1)]

Each exit must be clearly visible and marked by a sign reading "Exit". [29 CFR 1910.37(b)(2)]

Each exit route door must be free of decorations or signs that obscure the visibility of the exit route door. [29 CFR 1910.37(b)(3)]

If the direction of travel to the exit or exit discharge is not immediately apparent, signs must be posted along the exit access indicating the direction of travel to the nearest exit and exit discharge. Additionally, the line-of-sight to an exit sign must clearly be visible at all times. [29 CFR 1910.37(b)(4)]

Each doorway or passage along an exit access that could be mistaken for an exit (such as a closet) must be marked "Not an Exit" or similar designation, or be identified by a sign indicating its actual use. [29 CFR 1910.37(b)(5)]

Each exit sign must be illuminated to a surface value of at least five foot-candles (54 lux) by a reliable light source and be distinctive in color. Self-luminous or electroluminescent signs that have a minimum luminance surface value of at least .06 footlamberts (0.21 cd/m2) are permitted. [29 CFR 1910.37(b)(6)]

Each exit sign must have the word "Exit" in plainly legible letters not less than six inches (15.2 cm) high, with the principal strokes of the letters in the word "Exit" not less than three-fourths of an inch (1.9 cm) wide. [29 CFR 1910.37(b)(7)]

Fire retardant paints or solutions must be renewed as often as necessary to maintain their fire retardant properties. [29 CFR 1910.37(c)]

During new construction, employees must not occupy a workplace until the exit routes required by this subpart are completed and ready for employee use for the portion of the workplace they occupy. [29 CFR 1910.37(d)(1)]

During repairs or alterations, employees must not occupy a workplace unless the exit routes required by this subpart are available and existing fire protections are maintained, or until alternate fire protection is furnished that provides an equivalent level of safety. [29 CFR 1910.37(d)(2)]

Employees must not be exposed to hazards of flammable or explosive substances or equipment used during construction, repairs, or alterations, that are beyond the normal permissible conditions in the workplace, or that would impede exiting the workplace. [29 CFR 1910.37(d)(3)]

Employers must install and maintain an operable employee alarm system that has a distinctive signal to warn employees of fire or other emergencies, unless employees can promptly see or smell a fire or other hazard in time to provide adequate warning to them. The employee alarm system must comply with 29 CFR 1910.165. [29 CFR 1910.37(e)]

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