The importance of exit routes

November 6, 2019

green fire exit sign light at emergency escape door

An exit route is defined as a continuous and unobstructed path of exit from any point within a facility to a place of safety.

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), at least two exit routes must be available to permit quick evacuation of employees and other occupants in the event of an emergency. However, a single exit route is permitted where the number of employees, the size of the building, or the arrangement of the workplace would enable all employees to exit safely during an emergency.

An exit route is made up of three components:

  • Exit Access: The portion of the exit route that leads to an exit.
  • Exit: The part of the exit route that is usually separated from other areas to provide a protected way of travel to an exit quickly and efficiently.
  • Exit discharge: The part of the exit route that leads directly outside or to a street, walkway, refuge area, public way, or open space with access to the outside.

Exit routes must be permanent parts of a facility. Other design and construction requirements for exit routes require exit route doors remain unlocked from the inside. Additionally, they must be free of devices or alarms that could restrict the use of the exit route if the device or alarm fails.

Ceilings of exit routes must be at least seven feet, six inches high. Another requirement is that exit access must be at least 28 inches wide at all points, and exit routes must support the maximum permitted occupant load for each floor.

There are some maintenance, safeguarding, and operational features for exit routes. OSHA standards require employers to do the following:

  • Keep exit routes free of explosives or highly flammable furnishings and other decorations.
  • Provide lighting for exit routes adequate for employees with normal vision.
  • Install EXIT signs in plainly legible letters.
  • Provide an emergency alarm system to alert employees, unless employees can promptly see or smell a fire or other hazard in time to provide an adequate warning.
  • Maintain exit routes during construction, repairs, or alterations.

It is important that exit routes be located as far away from each other as possible in case one is blocked by fire or smoke. To learn more about security on business and industrial facilities, contact Vanguard Resources.