Hopefully an emergency will never happen at your workplace, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. The Occupational Safety and Health Association has established exit route requirements for employers to follow, to make sure employees have a safe way out of the building in case of emergency.
OSHA has put many mandates in place regarding exit routes, so it’s important to make sure yours conforms to all requirements. Keep reading for an overview of the basics.
Three Parts of an Exit Route
Defined by OSHA as a “continuous and unobstructed path of exit travel from any point within a workplace to a place of safety,” an exit route has three components:
- Exit Access. The part of the exit route that leads to the exit.
- Exit.The portion of the exit route that is typically separated from other zones to create a protected path to reach the exit discharge.
- Exit Discharge. The section of the exit route that proceeds directly to the designated safe area.
How to Create an Exit Route
More than just a walkway, OSHA has several requirements in place to create the safest possible exit route. Some of the key requirements include:
- Permanence. The exit route must be lasting in nature.
- Created With Fire-Resistant Materials. All materials used to separate the exit route from other parts of the building should have a one-hour fire resistance-rating if the area connects three stories or less. A two-hour fire resistance-rating is needed if the exit joins four stories or more.
- Limited Access. The exit route should only have openings necessary to grant access to the area from parts of the building occupied by employees or to the exit discharge. The exit opening must have a self-closing fire door that stays shut or automatically closes when emergency alarms sound. Every designated fire door — including the frame and hardware — needs to be listed or approved by a testing laboratory that is nationally known.
- Proper Number of Exits. OSHA requires the presence of a certain number of exits, so all people inside can be safely evacuated. The amount your workplace needs is based on a number of factors, including the number of employees, building size, occupancy rate and workplace setup.
- Door Locking. All exit doors must have the ability to be unlocked from the inside without keys, tools or any unexpected instructions.
- Use of a Door Swing. All exit doors must be side-hinged. If the room is constructed to hold more than 50 people or if high hazards are present, the door must swing out in the direction of the exit route.
- Outdoor Exit Routes. OSHA permits the use of outdoor exit routes if certain guidelines are met. Some of these include installing guardrails to protect unenclosed sides with a fall hazard, constructing a cover if snow or ice could be present, creating a level walkway and ensuring there is no dead-end longer than 20 feet.
For more detailed rules, regulations and information regarding exit routes in the workplace, visit the OSHA website.
Nothing is more important than the safety of your workers. At Premium Staffing, Inc., we strongly believe in the importance of adhering to OSHA standards. If you share this philosophy, team up with us to hire Chicagoland employees who always put safety first.