Environmental
   
         
 
 

exit signexit signEmergency Evacuation & Fire Safety

 
 
Overview
 
 
 Workplace fires and explosions kill 200 and injure more than 5,000 workers each year. In 1995, more than 75,000 workplace fires cost businesses more than $2.3 billion.

Fire safety becomes everyone's job at a worksite. Employers should train workers about fire hazards in the workplace and about what to do in a fire emergency. This plan should outline the assignments of key personnel in the event of a fire and provide an evacuation plan for workers on the site. Knowing the answers to the questions below could keep you safe during an emergency.

  • How would you escape from your workplace in an emergency?
  • Do you know where all the exits are in case your first choice is too crowded?
  • Are you sure the doors will be unlocked and that the exit access, such as a hallway, will not be blocked during a fire, explosion, or other crisis?
  • Is your facility properly marked for easy evacuation?
  • Is important fire fighting equipment properly marked and identified and in proper working order?
 
 
What should employers do to protect workers from fire hazards?
 
 Employers should train workers about fire hazards in the workplace and about what to do in a fire emergency. If you want your workers
to evacuate, you should train them on how to escape. If you expect your workers to use firefighting equipment, you should give them
appropriate equipment and train them to use the equipment safely. (See Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations Part 1910 Subparts E and L; and Part 1926 Subparts C and F.)Go to the top of this page
 

 

 What does OSHA require for emergency fire exits?

 
 Every workplace must have enough exits suitably located to enable everyone to get out of the facility quickly.

Considerations include the type of structure, the number of persons exposed, the fire protection available, the type of industry involved, and the height and type of construction of the building or structure.

In addition, fire doors must not be blocked or locked when employees are inside.

Delayed opening of fire doors, however, is permitted when an approved alarm system is integrated into the fire door design. Exit routes from buildings must be free of obstructions and properly marked with exit signs.

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 29 CFR 1910.36 Design and Construction requirements for exit routes
 
  • Make exit route design permanent.
  • Ensure that the number of exit routes is adequate based on the number of employees, the size of the building, its occupancy, and the arrangement of the workplace.
  • Separate an exit route from other workplace areas with materials that have the proper fire resistance-rating for the number of stories the route connects.
  • Ensure that exit routes meet width and height requirements. The width of exit routes must be sufficient to accommodate the maximum permitted occupant load of each floor served by the exit route.
  • Ensure that doors used to access exit routes have side hinges and swing in the direction of travel (depending on occupancy and hazard areas).
  • Design exit routes that lead to an outside area with enough space for all occupants.
  • An outdoor exit route is permitted but may have additional site-specific requirements.
  • Maintain the fire-retardant properties of paints and solutions that are used in exit routes.
  • Ensure that required exit routes and fire protections are available and maintained, especially during repairs and alterations.
  • Ensure that employee alarm systems are installed, operable, and in compliance with 29 CFR 1910.165 (Note: See Section I.A.5.).
  • Direct employees through exit routes using clearly visible signs. These signs must meet the required letter height and illumination specifications.
  • When openings could be mistaken for an exit, post appropriate signs stating “NOT AN EXIT.”
  • Arrange exit routes so that employees are not exposed to the dangers of high hazard areas.
  • Exit routes must be free and unobstructed. Prevent obstructions, such as decorations, furnishings, locked doorways, and dead-ends within exit routes.Go to the top of this page
Assistance Tools
 
 

 

29 CFR Part 1910.36 for details about all requirements
29 CFR Part 1910.37 Maintenance, safeguards, and operational features for exit routes.
E-Tools – Evacuation Plans and Procedure-Maintenance, Safeguards, and Operational Features for Exit Routes.
 
Emergency Action Fact sheet
Emergency Management Guide For Business & Industry
ERG 2008 - Emergency Response Guidebook

Visual Guide to Fire & Exit Safety Marking Guide

OSHA Fire Safety Advisor - Version 1.0a
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In New York City, legislation is pending that will require all buildings eight stories or higher to "Improve marking of the egress path, doors and stairs with photo-luminescent materials and retrofit existing exit signs with either battery or generator backup power".   Photo luminescent marking in the World Trade Center was the key to safe escape for thousands on September 11, 2001.

In rebuilding the Pentagon, planners determined that emergency exit signs traditionally placed above doorways could not be seem through the smoke and flames by people crawling to safety. Designers chose photo luminescent signs to mark exit paths and doorways. The rebuilt Pentagon now includes new floor-level, glow in the dark arrows pointing toward exits.

Are you providing a safe exit from your facility in the event of an
emergency or blackout situation?

The ASTM (American Society for Testing & Materials) E 2030-02 standard provides a "Guide for Recommended Uses of Photo luminescent Safety Markings" to supplement emergency lighting. Photo luminescent  marking should include the following:

  • Continuous Wall and Floor Markings in Corridors 
  • Marking of Exit Doors and Emergency Exits
  • Non-exit doors inside of escape stairs
  • Marking of Stairs, Ramps and Handrails
  • Obstacles, Protrusions and Other Hazards
  • Fire Fighting Equipment
  • Escape Route Plans should be provided on each floor
  • At any Exit Door leading to a stair, a sign should be provided that identifies the stair.  
  • In Stairs, a sign should be provided on each floor landing that
    identifies the stair, the floor, and whether re-entry into the building is acceptable.  

Visual Guide to Fire & Exit Safety Marking GuideGo to the top of this page

 
SetonGlo Safety Guidance System
 
Safety is the most important reason to install a photo luminescent directional system for evacuation during sudden blackout or smoke-laden conditions. The reliable SetonGlo Safety Guidance System is a complete system of non-electric, photo luminescent safety components essential to a comprehensive low-level emergency evacuation route.

The SetonGlo components are non-electric, non-toxic and non-radioactive. Using the latest  photo luminescent technology, the SetonGlo pigment absorbs and stores normal ambient light. In the event of a sudden power outage, the stored energy is immediately visible, enabling the SetonGlo Safety Guidance System to provide a safe illuminated path through dark stairwells, hallways and rooms.

The SetonGlo Safety Guidance System is easy and low-cost to install, and because there are no bulbs to burn out, the system is virtually
maintenance-free, periodic inspection, for 25+ years.
 

 
SetonGlo Safety Guidance System Products include:
 
 Emergency Exits
 
 Every exit must be clearly visible, or the path to it conspicuously  identified in such a manner that every occupant of the building will know the best way to get out of the building in a fire or other emergency.

 

Exits must never be obstructed. Any door or passageway that is not an exit or  path to an exit must be identified with a sign that reads 'Not An Exit' or  a sign that indicates its actual use, such as storage.

All exit signs must either be self-illuminating, or illuminated by a reliable external light source.

See 29 CFR Part 1910.36 for details about all requirements.
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NFPA Life Safety Code - Stair Identification Signs
 

NFPA Life Safety Code 101

3-7.3.1  Stairs serving five or more stories shall be provided with signage within the enclosure at each floor landing.  The signage shall indicate the story, the terminus of the top and bottom of the stair enclosure, and the identification of the stair. The signage also shall state the story of, and the direction to, exit discharge. The signage shall be inside the enclosure located approximately 5 ft (1.5 m) above the floor landing in a position that is readily visible when the door is in the open or closed position.

3-7.3.2  Wherever an enclosed stair requires travel in an upward direction to reach the level of exit discharge, signs with directional indicators indicating the direction to the level of exit discharge shall be provided at each floor level landing from which upward direction of travel is required. Such signage shall be readily visible when the door is in the open or closed position.

Exception No. 1: This requirement shall not apply where signs required by 3-7.3.1 are provided.

Exception No. 2: Stairs extending not more than one story below the level of exit discharge where the exit discharge is clearly obvious shall not be subject to this requirement. (101:7.2.2.5.5)

3-7.3.3  The sign shall be painted or stenciled on the wall or on a separate sign securely attached to the wall.

3-7.3.4  Letters and numerals shall be of bold type and of contrasting color to the background.

3-7.3.6  Roof access or no roof access shall be designated by the words "Roof Access" or "No Roof Access" and placed under the stairway identification letter. Lettering shall be a minimum of 1 in. (2.5 cm) high bold block lettering.

Exception: Existing approved signs.

3-7.3.7  The floor level number shall be placed in the middle of the sign in minimum 5 in. (12.7 cm) high bold block lettering. Mezzanine levels shall have the letter "M" or other appropriate identification letter preceding the floor number, while basement levels shall have the letter "B" or other appropriate identification letter preceding the floor level number.

3-7.3.8  The lower and upper terminus of the stairway shall be placed at the bottom of the sign in minimum 1 in. (2.5 cm) high bold block lettering.

3-7.3.9  These signs shall be maintained in an approved manner.

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