Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA requirements are set by statute, standards and regulations. Our interpretation letters explain these requirements and how they apply to particular circumstances, but they cannot create additional employer obligations. This letter constitutes OSHA's interpretation of the requirements discussed. Note that our enforcement guidance may be affected by changes to OSHA rules. Also, from time to time we update our guidance in response to new information. To keep apprised of such developments, you can consult OSHA's website at

July 6, 1976

Mr. Ronald W. Reed
Frederick Brown Associates
Electrical Engineering
3848 Campus Drive,
Suite 212
Newport Beach, California 92660

Dear Mr. Reed:

This is in response to your letter dated April 14, 1976, which requested clarification of 29 CFR 1910.37(q)(6) and (7).

Section 29 CFR 1910.37(q)(6), requires that exit signs in occupied workplaces be illuminated from a reliable external light source which provides a minimum of 5-foot candles on the sign surface. Electrical power supply from a public utility company is considered to be reliable. The exit sign surface may be passive, electrical internally illuminated, luminescent, fluorescent, reflective, or radioactive isotope self energized. A separate electrical lighting fixture for illumination of the exit sign is not required unless the normal ambient lighting does not provide the required minimum illumination of 5-foot candles on the sign surface.

Section 29 CFR 1910.37(q)(7), requires internally illuminated exit signs in workplace occupancies where reduction of normal illumination is permitted such as a theater type occupancies. Electrically internally illuminated signs and radioactive isotope self-energized signs would satisfy the requirement of 29 CFR 1910.37(q)(7). During periods of normal illumination in theater type occupancies, the illumination of exit signs shall comply with 29 CFR 1910.37(q)(6).

It should be noted at this time that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) does not have a general standard requiring emergency lighting or for that matter exit lighting. As for your two specific questions, the answer to the first question is no, and the second is answered in the paragraph above.

Thank you for your interest in occupational safety. If I can be of further assistance, please feel free to contact me.


John K. Barto, Chief
Division of Occupational Safety Programming