Scope, application and definitions applicable to this subpart;
Portable fire extinguishers;
Standpipe and hose systems;
Automatic sprinkler systems;
Fixed extinguishing systems, general;
Fixed extinguishing systems, dry chemical;
Fixed extinguishing systems, gaseous agent;
Fixed extinguishing systems, water spray and foam;
Fire detection systems; and
Employee alarm systems.
NOTE: Employers in states with state-run safety and health plans should check with their state agency. Their state may enforce standards that, while "as effective as federal standards," may not be identical to the federal requirements.
OSHA requirements for workplace fire safety include exits, emergency escape routes, fire extinguishers, and emergency plans.
In September 1991, 25 people died as a result of a fire in the Imperial Food Products, Inc., plant in Hamlet, North Carolina. The cause of the fire was the ignition of hydraulic oil from a ruptured line only a few feet from a natural-gas-fired cooker. The cooker was used to cook chicken pieces for distribution to restaurants. Out of 90 employees on the shift, 25 died and an additional 54 were injured.
Many OSHA violations were uncovered after the fire. The basic OSHA exit and fire safety violations that contributed to the deaths and injuries were: (View photos)
No emergency action plan or fire prevention plan, and
No automatic fire suppression plan.
The tragic Hamlet fire received a lot of publicity. In spite of this publicity, blocked exits continue to be found in poultry processing facilities. OSHA cited a plant in Hudson, Missouri, for blocking fire and emergency exits in July 1997.
What do OSHA Standards require?
Proper fire exits and training of employees to prevent fire deaths and injuries in the workplace.
If employers want employees to fight small fires, appropriate fire extinguishers must be available and employees must be trained to use them.
If employees are to evacuate instead of fighting small fires, an employer must have a written emergency plan and train employees for evacuation. During a 1997 survey, OSHA found that many facilities had written emergency plans. However, workers had not received adequate training or drills in what to do in an emergency.
The basic OSHA requirements for fire exits are:
There must be at least 2 doors or other means of escape for fire emergencies; they may not be close to each other.
Fire doors must not be locked or blocked from the inside when employees are in the building.
Routes to the fire exits must be free of obstructions and properly marked with exit signs.
U.S. Department of Labor | Occupational Safety & Health Administration | 200 Constitution Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20210 Telephone: 800-321-OSHA (6742) | TTY www.OSHA.gov
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