- Standard Number:1910.36(b)(4)1910.37(k)
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 http://www.osha.gov.
November 4, 1993
MEMORANDUM FOR: ROGER CLARK, DIRECTOR DIRECTORATE OF COMPLIANCE PROGRAMS FROM: LINDA R. ANKU REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR SUBJECT: LOCKED EXITS IN 1910 SUBPART E, RE: CHANGES TO SOURCE NATIONAL CONSENSUS STANDARD
The purpose of this memorandum is to request formal guidance as to whether it is a de minimus violation for exits to have a lock or fastening device which will prevent free escape when there are less than 10 employees occupying a building or structure. In the current Life Safety Code "occupied" is defined as meaning there are 10 or more occupants in a building or structure. This definition permits "unoccupied" buildings or structures with less than 10 occupants to be locked in a manner that prevents free escape.
There is confusion over this matter within OSHA. Some individuals believe that because the Life Safety Code is the source standard for Subpart E (Means of Egress) of the 1910 Standards, OSHA is bound by any changes within the source standard. However, guidelines set forth in the FOM on OSHA's de minimus policy do not seem to support such a position. Under the de minimus policy, employers are permitted to comply with a current consensus standard if compliance with the consensus standard clearly provides protection equal or greater than that provided by compliance with the OSHA standard. Locking exit doors when there are less than 10 employees in a building or structure does not provide protection equivalent to or greater than compliance with applicable OSHA standards (1910.36(b)(4) & 1910.37(k)) which require free escape regardless of the number of occupants.
If you require any additional information regarding this issue, please contact John McFee of my staff at (215) 596-1201.